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Friday, 26 April, 2002, 18:06 GMT 19:06 UK
Top-level inquiry into Damilola case
Damilola's final resting place in Plumstead south London
The Damilola case remains open despite no fresh leads
A high-level inquiry is to review the way in which the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) handled the Damilola Taylor murder case.

The Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith QC, has asked the Director of Public Prosecutions' office to establish if there are lessons to be learned from the case.

Sir John Stevens, head of the Metropolitan Police, is separately establishing a panel to examine the case and how vulnerable witnesses and defendants are handled.

We must learn from any mistakes that have been made and any weaknesses that have taken place in relation to this case

Sir John Stevens
In an interview with the BBC, the police chief said he deeply regretted the lack of justice Damilola's parents, Gloria and Richard Taylor, had received.

He said the investigating team had worked tirelessly on the case and were "very saddened indeed" at not achieving a conviction.

In his statement, Lord Goldsmith said it should not be assumed there has been a failure in the criminal justice system or that it was in any way wrong for the CPS to bring the case.

But he added that it was important to take time to learn any lessons from the case.

"I have therefore asked the Director of Public Prosecutions to look into the handling of the case, to consider whether there are implications for the conduct of future cases and to make recommendations," he said.

The DPP, David Calvert-Smith QC, will report back by mid-summer.

Sir John told the BBC he had consulted with Home Secretary Jack Straw, the chairman of the Met Police Authority, Lord Toby Harris, and Mayor of London Ken Livingstone about setting up his panel.


He said it would look into the circumstances surrounding the case and also the way the police and legal system deal with vulnerable witnesses and defendants.

Bishop John Sentamu of Stepney has been invited to head the panel and it too will report back by mid-summer.

Sir John said: "It is an immediate piece of work and an important piece of work.

"We have to understand crimes involving young people are the most difficult to solve.

"I think what we have to do is look at the system and see how we can improve it. We must learn from any mistakes that have been made and any weaknesses that have taken place in relation to this case."

He said reviewing the way vulnerable witnesses are dealt with and coming up with ideas to improve current procedures would be an important part of the panel's job.

Damilola Taylor's parents
Damilola's mother and father say there has been "no justice"
"Interviewing a 13-year-old in traumatic and difficult circumstance is difficult at the best of times," he said.

"We must look to see if there is another procedure that's necessary to ensure that we search for the truth in relation to this and ensure that justice is done in the future."

An Old Bailey jury found two brothers not guilty of murdering the 10-year-old on Thursday.

The Taylors have spoken of their despair and demanded that someone "should pay" for his death.

Earlier on Friday Prime Minister Tony Blair said lessons had to be learned from the failings of the police investigation .

He said it was right that questions are asked, but urged people not to jump to conclusions and added "we should also realise the police have a difficult job to do".

The BBC's Margaret Gilmore
"There's real pressure here to produce results"
Prime Minister Tony Blair
"We should not rush to judgement"
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