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The BBC's Navdip Dhariwal
"The Conservatives...promise they will restore the service's morale"
 real 56k

Shadow Home Secretary, Ann Widdecombe
"Police must not be afraid to do their job"
 real 28k

Home Office Minister, Charles Clarke
"William Hague's analysis is wrong"
 real 28k

Lawrence family solicitor, Imran Khan
"Police are still operating in a discriminatory fashion"
 real 28k

Thursday, 14 December, 2000, 08:17 GMT
Hague takes aim at Lawrence report
Stephen Lawrence and William Hague
Stephen Lawrence: his murder prompted racism inquiry
Conservative leader William Hague believes the police are being prevented from doing their job for fear of being branded racist.

In a speech at the Centre for Policy Studies, Mr Hague will blame the Macpherson report into the Stephen Lawrence's murder for undermining morale in the force.

He says officers are reluctant to stop and search black suspects and consequently there has been a significant rise in crime in urban areas.


The Macpherson report has been used to brand every officer and every branch of the force as racist

William Hague
The report accused the police of "institutionalised racism"; a phrase which Mr Hague says has been used by the politically correct to brand every police officer as a racist.

He is expected to pledge to "take on and defeat the attitude of the condescending liberal elite that has never trusted the police and now wants us to believe they are all racists".

Desperation

Stephen Lawrence, an 18-year-old A-level student, was stabbed in an unprovoked attack by a gang of white youths at a bus stop in Eltham, south east London, in April 1993.

No one has been convicted for the killing but five men have at various times been either arrested, charged or acquitted.

The inquiry, chaired by Sir William Macpherson, condemned the Metropolitan Police investigation as incompetent.
William Hague
Hague: Fewer police officers are using stop-and-search powers

Following the report, the force produced its own guidelines for how its 25,000 officers should deal with ethnic minorities.

But an internal inquiry leaked to the Financial Times newspaper suggests senior Metropolitan Police officers still do not think enough is being done to tackle the problem of racism.

Shadow home secretary Ann Widdecombe told BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Thursday that arrests had dropped by a third since the Macpherson report, but street crime had increased in the same period.

Ann Widdecombe MP
Widdecombe attacked 'forces of the politically correct'
Asked whether the Tory leader risked treading on delicate territory by criticising the report, Miss Widdecombe said: "It's not delicate territory to try to get crime down. It's what people want, black or white.

"We need enough police back on the streets of London and for them to be able to do their job.

"Of course you must make sure the police act courteously and proceed correctly but we must get crime down," she said.

Imran Khan, lawyer for the Lawrence family, said stop and search did not necessarily lead to a cut in crime.

"What Macpherson talked about was getting rid of discriminatory stop and search, not to completely do away with it, but to use those powers in a way that was fair and not based on the colour of a person's skin."

He dismissed suggestions that Sir William Macpherson represented the views of the politically correct.

Anxious to avoid charges of racism against himself, Mr Hague will stress his condemnation of Stephen Lawrence's murder and the need to tackle racist crime.


I thought William Hague might have had the courtesy to contact me beforehand

Sir William Macpherson
But Miss Widdecombe said: "Good also came out of the Macpherson report, no one is saying that it was useless. But because of that unfortunate phrase 'institutionalised racism' police are afraid to do their job."

But Labour sources say the extraordinary attack on the police service is a mark of William Hague's desperation.

They pointed out that in February last year the then Conservative spokesman on home affairs, Sir Norman Fowler, said he entirely associated himself with the Macpherson report.

And Sir William Macpherson said on Thursday: "I am simply most surprised that the Tory Party should change its view, because at the time the report was written they, in common with the government, accepted the report.

"I thought William Hague might have had the courtesy to contact me beforehand."

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See also:

14 Oct 00 | UK
Lawrence payout 'excessive'
25 Mar 99 | Stephen Lawrence
The Lawrence inquiry
13 Dec 00 | UK Politics
Tories are 'underdogs' - Hague
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