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Tuesday, July 13, 1999 Published at 21:48 GMT 22:48 UK


Lawrence hearing a 'whitewash'

Ben Bullock was second in command of the murder inquiry

The only senior detective to face charges over the Stephen Lawrence murder inquiry has been cleared of almost all the counts against him - and the victim's mother has called the proceedings a "whitewash".

Jon Silverman reports: "For the Lawrences it is yet another disappointment"
The decision by the internal police tribunal means that after six years, and a critical public inquiry report, only one Metropolitan Police officer has been found guilty of any charges.

Detective Inspector Ben Bullock, 50, was cleared of 11 of the 13 elements in three neglect of duty charges on Tuesday, according to the Lawrence family solicitor, Imran Khan.

Four other charges of neglect of duty were dropped last week.

Stephen Lawrence case: Timeline of events
Mr Bullock, second in command of the investigation, has been found guilty of failing to give a proper brief to officers searching the homes of suspects, and of failing to investigate fully an anonymous letter sent to police.

But he was cleared of failing to follow up key evidence from an informant who named three prime suspects the day after the murder of the 18-year-old in April 1993, in Eltham, south east London.

A further hearing on 22 July will announce Mr Bullock's punishment.

'Just a laugh'

Mr Bullock retires on 23 July on health grounds, having delayed the date to allow the tribunal to take place.

[ image: Doreen Lawrence:
Doreen Lawrence: "It's just a laugh"
Stephen's mother Doreen Lawrence criticised the tribunal, saying it was "just a laugh".

"It's just a whitewash, the whole thing from the word go. We knew nothing was ever going to come out of it," she said.

"I am surprised that the tribunal found Bullock guilty of anything. He will retire with a very good pension, he will never be punished."

Stephen's father Neville said: "This man was one of a number of police officers who failed in their duty to my son and my family.

"None of them should take any comfort that this man was only convicted of two charges."

New action

Mr Khan said the outcome had strengthened the Lawrences' resolve to take further action against the force or individual officers.

Mr Bullock, now serving in the Met's special operations department, was the only officer still serving whom the Police Complaints Authority considered should face serious charges.

[ image: Stephen Lawrence was a promising student]
Stephen Lawrence was a promising student
Four other senior officers who would have faced charges have already retired.

Glen Smyth, of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said the hearing was scrupulous and fair.

Mr Bullock has the right to appeal against the decision to the home secretary but he was unlikely to put himself through another ordeal, said Mr Smyth.

Minor punishment expected

Speaking on Mr Bullock's behalf, Mr Smyth said: "His conscience is clear. The tribunal said his role was a minor part and he was not wantonly negligent nor grossly incompetent."

He said they were confident the punishment would be minor, such as a simple reprimand.

The detective "deserves credit and recognition for his steadfastness", said Mr Smyth.

Mr Bullock was criticised in Sir William Macpherson's report into the police handling of the investigation.

It said: "He was often passive and not up to his job.

"The major responsibility for the team's failures lie with those who supervised Mr Bullock but as deputy investigating officer he bears his share of responsibility for the team's failures."

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