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Stephen Lawrence Wednesday, 24 February, 1999, 18:22 GMT
Top policemen under fire
Six senior officers will take the brunt of Sir William Macpherson's criticisms of the Metropolitan Police force. We outline who they are and the part they played in failing to bring to justice the killers of Stephen Lawrence.

Sir Paul Condon, Metropolitan Police Commissioner

When he took over Britain's top policing job two months after Stephen Lawrence's murder in 1993, Sir Paul vowed to tackle racism and corruption. However, he undermined his plans with the comment: "We are targeting young black men as they are disproportionately involved in street crime."

Stephen Lawrence case: Timeline of events
During the investigation, he wrote to Neville and Doreen Lawrence to assure them that it was being properly carried out. By the end of Sir William's inquiry, he was apologising for its flaws. Though now facing calls to resign over his force's handling of the case, he remains adamant that he will stay. He also continues to deny "institutional racism" in his team.

The five officers under Sir Paul's command.

After a year-long review of the conduct of the Lawrence case, the Police Complaints Authority recommended that five detectives face disciplinary charges. The four most senior - Detective Chief Superintendents William Isley and Roderick Barker and Detective Superintendents Brian Weedon and Ian Crampton - were already retired when the PCA announced its findings. The only one to face charges is Detective Inspector Ben Bullock, second in command of the murder inquiry.

Detective Chief Superintendent William Isley

Mr Isley was the senior detective in overall command of the murder investigation and had almost 30 years experience at the time of Stephen's death. He admitted to the inquiry that he had accused the Lawrences of "spreading around " confidential information about the case.

Counsel for the Lawrences Michael Mansfield QC condemned his approach as "reprehensible" and said that he and other senior officers "never intended effective arrests leading to conviction to be achieved."

Mr Isley would have faced disciplinary action had he not retired in 1995 after 32 years of service.

Detective Superintendent Ian Crampton

Mr Crampton headed the inquiry for the crucial first 72 hours after Stephen's death. During this time he took the vital decision not to arrest any of the five suspects despite a flood of tip-offs from the public. At the inquiry he admitted that he should have arrested them immediately. Michael Mansfield QC accused him of deliberate mistakes to prevent successful convictions.

Mr Crampton would have faced neglect charges but retired in 1996 after 30 years service.

Detective Superintendent Brian Weedon

Mr Weedon took over the case from Ian Crampton after only three days. It was his 61st murder investigation. But he did not meet the Lawrence family until a year later and accused them of being partly responsible for the breakdown of the family liaison process. "It takes two to tango," he said.

His knowledge of the law was so scant, he told the inquiry, that he did not know he could make immediate arrests if there were "reasonable grounds for suspicion". Instead he insisted on waiting until he had firm evidence of guilt.

He retired in 1994 after putting off his leaving by six months in order to continue the investigation. He too would have faced disciplinary charges.

Detective Inspector Ben Bullock

Mr Bullock was second in command to Mr Weedon and is the only officer to face disciplinary charges.

A junior colleague described how Mr Bullock showed "little or no interest" in a man who walked into Eltham police station less than 24 hours after the murder offering detailed information about the main suspects. The informant left and the police did not speak to him for another four days.

Mr Bullock faces seven charges in total and withdrew his resignation to fight them.

Detective Chief Superintendent Roderick Barker

A former head of the Flying Squad with more than 200 murder investigations under his belt. He authored the Metropolitan Police's now discredited internal review of the case in 1993 and told the inquiry how he left out criticism of officers because it could damage morale.

In response Sir William Macpherson said that his "value as a witness and his credibility in vital matters has already been undermined for reasons which will be perfectly obvious for anyone here."

He would be facing disciplinary action if he had not retired.

Links to more Stephen Lawrence stories are at the foot of the page.

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