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Saturday, 28 April, 2001, 16:38 GMT 17:38 UK
Macpherson attacks media 'vendetta'
Sir William Macpherson
Sir William Macpherson has received hate mail
The head of the official inquiry into the death of the black teenager Stephen Lawrence has criticised sections of the press for making "personal attacks" against him.

Sir William Macpherson said his family had become so concerned about some newspaper articles they had urged him not to give any more interviews.

They have regularly attacked the expression 'institutional racism' but this wasn't something we dreamt up

Sir William Macpherson
The retired High Court judge said he had received hate mail following the publication of his inquiry report.

Sir William's comments in The Independent newspaper come as union chief Bill Morris called for a "grown-up" debate about race at the Trades Union Congress Black Workers Conference in Perth, on Saturday.

'Blood on hands'

Sir William told the Independent: "They (his family) have seen the hassle, and it has been a hassle.

"However much you are used to criticism and however much you have been in the public eye... it has gone beyond that - it has been troublesome for them.

"When they read it, it's pretty unpleasant."

Stephen Lawrence
Stephen Lawrence: Attacked at bus stop
The worst case was a newspaper article which described him as having "blood on his hands", he added.

He singled out the Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail for making personal attacks on him and his use of the term "institutional racism" to describe attitudes in the Metropolitan Police.

He defended the expression saying: "This isn't something we dreamt up. All we did was refine it."

'Silent conspiracy'

Mr Morris told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that organisations such as the Police Federation were part of a "silent conspiracy" to stifle debate over positive recommendations made in the Macpherson report.

"We had a good start when Sir William Macpherson published his report and a lot of institutions started to take positive steps," he said.

"My judgement is that there is now a sort of silent conspiracy to stop Macpherson in its tracks and hence we are getting a description of Britain that a lot of us don't recognise."

But that suggestion was refuted by Glen Smyth, head of the Metropolitan Police Federation, who branded the idea of a conspiracy as "laughable".

"We are not involved in a conspiracy, silent or otherwise. It is laughable and he [Mr Morris] should not have been given air time. He should consider retiring," Mr Smyth said.

Police morale

Sir William's report, published in February 1999, made 70 recommendations into improving police attitudes to racism.

Stephen Lawrence, 18, died after being stabbed at a bus stop in Eltham, south-east London, in April, 1993.

The report, six years after his death, prompted criticism for striking a blow at police morale.

Sir William has said he thinks the Metropolitan Police are making good progress in carrying out change.

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See also:

28 Apr 01 | UK Politics
MPs warned over race debate
27 Apr 01 | UK Politics
Tory peer attacks Hague over race
14 Dec 00 | UK Politics
Hague takes aim at Lawrence report
17 Dec 00 | UK Politics
Police morale 'worst yet'
04 Jan 01 | UK Politics
Macpherson receives death threats
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