Saturday, February 13, 1999 Published at 06:52 GMT
Lawrence investigation 'seriously flawed'
The Lawrence investigation: "The effort of a B team"
The Metropolitan Police investigation into the racist murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence has been scathingly criticised by fellow officers who carried out a probe into the handling of the case.
Speaking on the programme, Deputy Chief Constable Bob Ayling, who headed the Kent team with Detective Chief Superintendent David Clapperton, described the murder investigation as "the effort of a B team ... not the best that the Metropolitan Police could have provided".
The Kent probe into the investigation of Stephen's murder on 22 April 1993 in Eltham, south east London, was carried out after a complaint to the Police Complaints Authority by Stephen Lawrence's parents.
His information pertained to "Witness K" who had been at the house of two brothers, Neil and Jamie Acourt, on the night of Stephen's murder.
Mr Clapperton said Witness K reportedly saw the Acourts "in a state of undress and they had been washing themselves and perhaps articles" when he told them about the murder.
It was "quite clear" that Witness K believed the Acourts were involved in the murder, but he has only ever provided a short statement to police and has never been involved in any "criminal proceedings".
He is now understood to be too terrified to give evidence.
Mr Clapperton suggested that "very little" was done to follow up other vital witnesses or evidence, including three phonecalls from a female with information that could "only have come from someone very close to those who committed the murder".
In addition, Duwayne Brooks, a friend who was with Stephen when he was stabbed, maintains the attacker had blonde or fair hair, which none of the five suspects are known to have had.
He added that there was "speculation" that to join the Acourts gang "you had to stab someone ... maybe, just maybe, this was a new member of the gang who wanted to show their worth by stabbing Stephen".
Kent Police also found that an "anonymous male" had sent a series of notes to police and made phonecalls concerning the killing.
One of the notes said that the Acourts were "very dangerous knife-users who always carry knives and quite like using them".
It linked them to another stabbing and tallied closely with evidence from a police surveillance video that showed the suspects making racist comments and playing with knives.
In an effort to challenge all previous assumptions of the case, the Kent investigation also re-examined the roles of all the prime suspects and concluded that Gary Dobson was probably involved to a lesser extent and "in a different category to the other four".
The Kent Police probe provided much of the material for what are expected to be the highly damning findings of the public inquiry into the Lawrence case.
The report, which will probably be in the public domain in the next 10 days, is likely to press for fresh police procedures in dealing with racist crimes.