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Sunday, January 3, 1999 Published at 16:49 GMT


Lawrence report will be 'painful'

Sir Paul: Faced angry calls for his resignation

The publishing of the report into the killing of black teenager Stephen Lawrence will be a "painful" experience for the police, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Condon has admitted.

The report is the final stage of an inquiry which looked into how the police handled the 1993 murder investigation.

The Lawrence inquiry chairman Sir William Macpherson is expected to release his findings within a matter of weeks.

There are suggestions that it will be highly critical of the force's handling of the case.

Officers facing criticism have been given a final chance to defend themselves before the final version is sent to the Home Secretary, Jack Straw.

[ image: Stephen Lawrence: Stabbed to death in 1993]
Stephen Lawrence: Stabbed to death in 1993
Sir Paul, who denies there is institutional racism in the force, has said he wants to use the report as a starting point for a new process of reform.

He said the inquiry into Stephen Lawrence's death had been "very valuable" and was looking forward to Sir William's report.

Speaking on Sky News' Sunday programme, he said: "It will be painful, it will be challenging but ultimately it must lead to us facing up to the challenge of racism."

Asked about his stance on institutional racism, Sir Paul said he hoped the report would provide a clearer definition of the term but insisted he did not underestimate the problem of racism inside the Met.

"I'm not denying the serious challenge of racism in the police force. What we need is some inspiration, some rallying point for reform."

'I considered my position'

Sir Paul added that he had "considered his position" during the case in which he has come up against angry calls by demonstrators and the Lawrence family to resign.

He said: "I obviously considered my position in this case. If I felt that I had personally done bad things or inappropriate things, clearly, that would have influenced how I felt about my future."

The public inquiry which gathered evidence for the report sparked violent clashes between the police and demonstrators.

There are five "prime suspects" in the case who have all at various times been charged with Stephen's murder in south east London. Three were acquitted at the Old Bailey in 1996. The charges against the other two never went to court.

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