Fresh suspicions of foul play in the Stephen Lawrence – a black boy “unlawfully killed by five white youths” – murder case surfaced today with the arrest of a former police constable and a serving member of Metropolitan police staff for allegedly withholding evidence from the original murder inquiry.
The swoop on the homes of the men, aged 62 and 53, came after detectives at Scotland Yard, who are reviewing the case, uncovered evidence that information could have been withheld for 16 years.
The two men, who have not been named, were arrested on Thursday on suspicion of attempting to pervert the course of justice, by investigators from the Independent Police Complaints Commission and officers from the Met’s directorate of professional standards.
They were interviewed at a central London police station and later bailed to return on 1 March.
They are suspected of keeping information from the original inquiry in 1993 into Lawrence’s murder, and also from the Kent investigation in 1997 into the Met’s failings and the Macpherson inquiry in 1999 which found Scotland Yard officers were institutionally racist.
Commenting on the development, Dr Richard Stone, who sat on the Macpherson inquiry, said the panel felt throughout they were not getting the full picture.“We were being told that no one was coming forward with information about who was responsible but there was no such wall of silence.
There was a large amount of information that the police were either not processing or were suppressing.”
He added: “We felt there was a strong smell of corruption. Mrs Lawrence has to face the fact that maybe there was corruption and her son’s killers are still free.”
Baroness Ros Howells, a friend of Doreen Lawrence and patron of the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust, said: “Lots of people said they gave the police evidence which was never produced. I am delighted with anything that clears up that mess.”
Lawrence, 18, was stabbed to death by a gang of white youths in Eltham, south-east London on April 22 1993. Within hours Luke Knight, David Norris, Gary Dobson, and brothers Neil and Jamie Acourt had been identified as suspects in tip-offs.
Allegations of corruption in the original inquiry have swirled around the case from the beginning.
Two years ago, however, the IPCC rejected claims that Clifford Norris, the father of David, was paying a Met detective sergeant, John Davidson.Stephen’s parents, Doreen and Neville Lawrence, had been kept informed.
The Met’s review of the murder inquiry is being overseen by assistant commissioner Cressida Dick.
The inquest found that Stephen Lawrence was “unlawfully killed by five white youths” but no one has ever been convicted. Dobson, Knight, and Neil Acourt were acquitted of murder after a private prosecution collapsed at the Old Bailey in 1996. The case against Norris and Jamie Acourt did not reach court.