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Police unable to find memo saying they spied on a murder victim's family

Manchester police can’t find a memo which allegedly orders surveillance over people attending the Stephen Lawrence inquiry.

Doreen Lawrence, mother of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence, leaves the Home Office with her son Stuart following a meeting with the Home Secretary Theresa May.
Doreen Lawrence, mother of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence, leaves the Home Office with her son Stuart following a meeting with the Home Secretary Theresa May.
Image: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

POLICE IN MANCHESTER have said the are unable to locate a memo which allegedly asked police officers to spy on individuals and groups attending an inquiry into one of Britain’s most controversial murders.

Greater Manchester Police said they could not find the memo which was alleged to have been issued ahead of the inquiry into the death of Stephen Lawrence, which was held in the city in 1998.

Lawrence was stabbed to death at a bus stop in London in 1993, in what was believed to be a racially motivated attack. It was later alleged that London’s Metropolitan Police had shown “institutional racism” in investigating the incident.

However, it was reported this week that police in London were told to spy on Lawrence’s friends and family – and later that police in Manchester, where the inquiry into the London police response was held, had also sought surveillance on people attending.

The Daily Mirror said it had obtained a police report sent by a sergeant to a chief superintendent, saying it had been used in a court case over racial discrimination in 2004.

It has been alleged that the surveillance may have been requested by the police in London – but it is also possible that the alleged institutional racism may have been present on a broader, national scale.

“Due to the length of time that has elapsed since then, efforts to locate this memo and any other related material remain ongoing,” said assistant chief constable Dawn Copley of Greater Manchester Police.

“GMP recognises the need to fully explore the legitimacy of the use of any such tactics.”

The force said it would be referring the matter to the Independent Police Complaints Commission on a voluntary basis and would continue to look for any information which may help its later investigations.

Read: British police ‘spied on Stephen Lawrence family in bid to smear them’

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Gavan Reilly

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