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Monday, February 15, 1999 Published at 10:55 GMT


Straw studies Lawrence report

Sir Paul has said he will resign if personally criticised

Home Secretary Jack Straw has started studying the long-awaited report by Sir William Macpherson into the police investigation of the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence.

Mr Straw received the report on Monday night and will be the only person to see it before it is published next week.

A Home Office spokesman said: "The home secretary has received the report and is considering its recommendations. He will make a statement to the House of Commons and publish it shortly."

[ image: Protesters outside the inquiry]
Protesters outside the inquiry
The document is already being hailed as marking a watershed in race relations in Britain, similar to the report by Lord Scarman following inner-city riots in the early 1980s.

Monday's Independent and Daily Mail newspapers claimed Scotland Yard chief Sir Paul Condon is expected to be censured for reassuring Stephen's parents, Neville and Doreen, that the murder inquiry was being properly carried out without trying to establish whether that was really the case.

Black teenager Stephen Lawrence was stabbed at a bus stop in Eltham, south-east London, in 1993.

No one has been convicted of the murder and the key issue addressed by the inquiry is why the case was so badly handled. It is expected to criticise 23 police officers.

Race relations change

Sir Paul is due to retire in January but has repeatedly said he will resign if he is personally criticised.

In an interview last week he said: "If I felt that anyone was saying that I had personally acted badly or dishonourably then I wouldn't hesitate to go."

The newspapers also say that inquiry chairman Sir William Macpherson has written to Sir Paul to warn him of the report's findings.

But a spokesman for Scotland Yard denied that Sir Paul had received formal notification that he was likely to be criticised. People criticised in such an inquiry are normally warned beforehand.

The report will also decide whether the Metropolitan Police force is "institutionally racist", the issue that dominated the 69-day public hearing.

Whatever the findings, they are expected to mark a significant change in race relations in the UK.

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