Published June 23, 2013
LONDON (AFP) – British police spied on the family and friends of the victim of the country's most notorious racist murder in order to find "dirt" to "smear" them, the Guardian reported on Sunday.
The paper said on its website that former undercover officer Peter Francis had told them he was part of an operation to spy on relatives of teenager Stephen Lawrence, who was stabbed to death at a London bus stop on April 22, 1993.
The killing sparked an overhaul of British policing after an official report found that "institutional racism" had tainted the original investigation.
Francis posed as an anti-racist activist in order to try and obtain information which would discredit the campaign for a more thorough investigation, according to the Guardian.
"I had to get any information on what was happening in the Stephen Lawrence campaign," Francis told the paper.
"They wanted the campaign to stop. It was felt it was going to turn into an elephant.
"Throughout my deployment there was almost constant pressure on me personally to find out anything I could that would discredit these campaigns."
Two white men, Gary Dobson and David Norris, were convicted of the murder in January 2012 on the basis of new forensic evidence. They lost an appeal against their life sentences in August.
They were among five suspects arrested within days of Lawrence's murder, and police say that the investigation into possible accomplices remains "live".
A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police added "a thorough review and investigation" was being undertaken into the latest claims.
Former policeman Francis claims he was told to target Lawrence's friend who was with him at the time of the attack.
Lawrence's mother, Doreen, told the paper that there was no justification in "trying to discredit the family and people around us."