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Sunday, 6 May, 2001, 10:22 GMT 11:22 UK
'Racism' claim against police force
Chhokar graphic
Police ruled out a racial motive for Mr Chhokar's murder
A report into the murder of Asian waiter Surjit Singh Chhokar is expected to say the Strathclyde Police force is "institutionally racist", it has been claimed.

An early decision to rule out any racial motivation for the murder will be sharply criticised in the inquiry's report, the Scotland on Sunday newspaper claimed.

Sources within the Labour party have reportedly told the newspaper that Dr Raj Jandoo, who is leading one of two inquiries into the case, is also set to clear the Crown Office of overt racism in its handling of the case.

In the inquiry's report, due to be released at the end of the month, Dr Jandoo is said to cite incompetence and weaknesses in the system for the failures in the prosecution of the case and the Crown Office's dealings with Mr Chhokar's family.

The Metropolitan Police was branded 'institutionally racist' after the Stephen Lawrence inquiry
Nobody has been convicted of the murder of Mr Chhokar, who was stabbed to death in Overtown, near Wishaw, Lanarkshire, in 1998.

Three men who admitted being at the scene of the crime were later prosecuted in separate trials, but all were acquitted after blaming each other for the killing.

Ronnie Coulter, 32, from Wishaw, claimed in the original trial in March 1999 that his cousin Andrew Coulter, 19, from Wishaw, and David Montgomery, 23, from Motherwell, were responsible for the killing.

Trial judge Lord McCluskey described the Crown's decision to put only one of the trio in the dock as "extraordinary".

Judicial inquiry

At a second trial in November last year, Andrew Coulter and David Montgomery were also cleared of the killing, although Coulter was jailed for a year for the lesser crime of assault.

Dr Jandoo's inquiry was designed to review how prosecutors liaised with the Chhokar family and address concerns that they were not kept up-to-date with events.

A separate judicial inquiry headed by Sir Anthony Campbell, Justice of the Supreme Court of Northern Ireland, was also launched.

At the conclusion of last year's trial, Strathclyde Police insisted its investigation into Mr Chhokar's death had been "intense, thorough and professional" and maintained the killing had not been racially motivated.

The term "institutional racism" was first used against the Metropolitan Police by the Macpherson inquiry into the death of black London teenager Stephen Lawrence and has been the subject of fierce debate ever since.

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16 Feb 01 | Scotland
Chhokar family discuss inquiries
08 Feb 01 | Scotland
Chhokar trial pair sent to jail
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