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Monday, February 22, 1999 Published at 21:52 GMT


Police chief refuses to resign

Fresh flowers lie on Stephen Lawrence's memorial stone in Eltham

The head of London's police force is refusing to resign over condemnation of his force's handling of the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence.

Special Report: Stephen Lawrence
Sir Paul Condon's statement came as he and the dead teenager's parents were allowed to read the official report into the murder investigation for the first time.

Neville and Doreen Lawrence spent over four hours at the Home Office after being invited to see the report as a political row over the leaking of parts of it raged on in the House of Commons.

The BBC's Jane Peel:"New powers to investigate the police"
Both parents left without commenting on Sir William Macpherson's report as did Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul.

He was allowed to see the full document after leaked extracts said his force is "riddled with pernicious and institutionalised racism".

[ image:  ]
Sir Paul is also personally criticised in the report which will be published on Wednesday but is refusing to resign.

It is thought he may be preparing to change his stance over his assertion during last year's inquiry that there is no "institutionalised racism" within the force.

According to an interview in the London Evening Standard he is now prepared to accept a new definition contained in the Macpherson report.

Damian Grammaticas reports on the UK police's race relations headache
The interview was conducted before details of the inquiry's conclusions emerged at the weekend, although it is understood Sir Paul is standing by his words.

Campaigners say it is too late for him to dig himself out of trouble.

Suresh Grover, head of The Monitoring Group, a west London anti-racist group, said Sir Paul's position was "untenable".

But Sir Herman Ouseley, chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, said all that mattered was whether he was committed to making necessary changes.

Makhan Bajwa, of Greenwich Council for Racial Equality: "I'm not interested in scapegoats"
"The real difficulty for Sir Paul Condon is what the report says about his role in overseeing what happened during all the various stages of the investigations."

Sir Herman added that the commissioner's position depended on whether the report was very critical of him, if he was not prepared to accept it, or if the Lawrence family felt he should go.

Case for the defence

Senior police officers have defended Sir Paul's record and denied his force's reputation is in tatters.

Des Parkinson reacts to the Lawrence findings
Chief Superintendent Des Parkinson of the Police Superintendents' Association for England and Wales said: "We don't believe that there is institutionalised racism in the Metropolitan Police force or in the police service in general."

The report, to be published on Wednesday, is thought to contain up to 70 recommmendations for the police and judicial system.

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As well as matters of race relations, these also include reviewing the "double jeopardy" rule, which bars a suspect from being tried twice for the same crime.

Three of the suspects in the Lawrence case were acquitted and cannot be tried again for murder.

Monday also saw the government's handling of the weekend leak of parts of the report prompting a furious exchange in the House of Commons.

Home Secretary Jack Straw defended his decision to apply for an injunction to try to stop publication in the media.

In the face of stinging criticism from Fleet Street and opposition politicians, he told MPs his decision was aimed at stopping unfair reporting.

He said he had the support of the Lawrence family and ordered an inquiry into the leak.

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22 Feb 99 | UK Politics
Lawrence leak inquiry ordered

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Electronic Telegraph - Government blocks our Lawrence story

Met Police - Submission to the Stephen Lawrence inquiry (Part 1)

Met Police - Submission to the Stephen Lawrence inquiry (Part 2)

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