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Wednesday, February 24, 1999 Published at 06:41 GMT


Day of reckoning for London police

Stephen Lawrence: His father is "clinging to hope of justice"

The long-awaited report into the investigation of the Stephen Lawrence case is to be published later on Wednesday by the Home Office.

The Macpherson report is expected to be highly critical of the Metropolitan Police who originally investigated his murder.

Leaked extracts have suggested that the inquiry considered racism in the force to be a key factor in the failure of the police investigation into the killing of the black teenager - a crime for which no-one has been found guilty.

The BBC's Reeta Chakrabarti: "A public relations disaster for the Metropolitan Police"
The report is the culmination of many years of campaigning by the Lawrence family.

Their determination to find out what happened to their son has led to the unprecedented dissection of one individual investigation and has already prompted fundamental changes in the Metropolitan police.

But according to the BBC's Community Affairs Correspondent, Reeta Chakrabarti, that may not be enough to save the position of the Met's commissioner, Sir Paul Condon, who last year resisted the inquiry's entreaties to recognise that his force is instinctively racist.

Dep Asst Commissioner John Grieve: Tricks applied to racists outside will be applied to those within the service
However, it is now thought that the leaked definition provided by the inquiry - which includes the idea that such racism may be unwitting - may be one that Sir Paul can sign up to, therefore preserving his job.

[ image: Sir Paul Condon: Rejects institutional racism]
Sir Paul Condon: Rejects institutional racism
The report, due out at about 1530 GMT, is thought to contain up to 70 recommendations for the police and judicial system.

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.

The BBC's Reeta Chakrabarti: "Determination to find out what happened"
Meanwhile, the father of Stephen Lawrence, who was allowed to see the report earlier this week, says he is still hoping for some measure of justice for his murdered son.

Neville Lawrence said he still hoped the five white youths widely accused of Stephen's murder could be found guilty and punished.

[ image: Doreen and Neville Lawrence: Police acted
Doreen and Neville Lawrence: Police acted "too late"
"I'm still clinging to the hope of justice," he told ITV's London Tonight programme.

He said he would be happy with a 15-year term for perjury and demanded that the police adapt to be more in step with society.

The Lawrence family and their supporters have always said the police failed to respond quickly to the crime, played down the racist aspect and declined to arrest the five main suspects until it was "too late".

Officers on the murder team have also been accused of failing to keep the Lawrences informed of the inquiry's progress and one officer was alleged to have close links with the father of one of the suspects, David Norris.

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