Stephen Lawrence corruption claims probed

An inquiry has been launched into claims that a senior detective investigating the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence was corrupt.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has called on the Metropolitan police service (MPS) to investigate claims in a BBC documentary that det sgt John Davidson had been paid to deliberately obstruct the probe.

The former detective denies any suggestion of corruption in the case of Mr Lawrence, who was stabbed to death in Eltham, south-east London in 1993, aged just 18, but the Met said today it has “serious concerns” about the allegations made.

Five men – Neil and Jamie Acourt, David Norris, Gary Dobson and Luke Knight – were arrested but there was not enough evidence to bring a prosecution. No-one has ever been convicted of the murder.

The McPherson report condemned the Met’s original investigation into the Stephen Lawrence murder as “marred by a combination of professional incompetence, institutional racism and a failure of leadership by senior officers”.

But it found that allegations of corruption, in particularly with regard to the influence of Mr Norris’ father, Clifford, could not be proven.

It also said there was no evidence that Mr Davidson “held back positively in respect of the lines of investigation which he followed in order to favour David Norris or indeed any of the other suspects”.

However, in a BBC documentary to be screened this evening, a former corrupt police detective turned whistleblower, Neil Putnam, claims Clifford Norris bribed Mr Davidson to obstruct the Lawrence investigation.

“Davidson told me that he was looking after Norris and that to me meant that he was protecting him, he was protecting his family against arrest and any conviction,” Mr Putnam told the programme.

“From my conversation that I had with John Davidson on that day, I would say that John Davidson was receiving cash from Clifford Norris by his expression that he was using it was, he was getting a little earner out of it – it was a good little earner.

“That, in my mind, was corrupt practices.”

John Yates, the Met’s deputy assistant commissioner given the task of ridding the force of corruption, admitted he believed Mr Davidson was corrupt.

But he rejected Mr Putnam’s claims that police were aware of the alleged relationship between Mr Norris and the detective, but it was suppressed.

“From all the evidence I’ve seen, and the intelligence I’ve seen, I have no doubt he was corrupt,” he said, but added: “To suggest that we would in any way try and hide references to [the alleged relationship] is simply ridiculous.”

Following the investigation, IPCC deputy chairman John Wadham said: “There are two serious allegations in this film and we will be asking the MPS to record the misconduct complaints.

“We would then expect the MPS to refer them back to the IPCC for us to decide how they are investigated.”

He added that Stephen’s mother, Doreen Lawrence, had also lodged a complaint about the allegations included in the BBC programme, which would be forwarded to the MPS.