Socialist Worker

Corrupt cops protected Stephen’s racist killers

by Simon Basketter
Issue No. 2349

Racists killed Stephen Lawrence on 22 April 1993. At least three of Stephen’s killers remain at large. The reason is police corruption.

Secret police intelligence reports show extensive allegations of corruption against Detective Sergeant John Davidson. The allegations were withheld from the Macpherson inquiry into the case. 

Initially cops failed to make any arrests, despite detectives having received 39 tip-offs in the days following the murder.

They named Neil Acourt, Jamie Acourt, Gary Dobson, Luke Knight and David Norris as the gang members involved. Dobson and Norris were jailed last year for the murder.

Initially the cops didn’t question the suspects—and mounted a surveillance operation outside the Acourts’ house instead.

A young man was seen taking clothes from the house in a black bin liner—but the police photographer there didn’t take any pictures.

When the police finally went to arrest Stephen’s killers, David Norris was not at home, suggesting he had been tipped off.

Detective Sergeant Davidson interviewed suspects and witnesses after the stabbing. 


Davidson was at the centre of a group of cops “operating as a professional organised crime syndicate”, according to later police intelligence reports.

He dealt with an informant who identified David Norris and others as suspects for the murder. That informant’s file was lost during the investigation. 

Davidson also arrested and interviewed Gary Dobson and carried out the interview of another suspect, Luke Knight.

Davidson is alleged to have admitted that officers had a corrupt relationship with Clifford Norris, the gangster father of David Norris. 

A police supergrass gave evidence that Davidson told him bent cops “looked after old man Norris”. 

He added, “that to me meant that he was protecting him, protecting his family against arrest and any conviction.” 

In 1994 Davidson transferred to the South East Regional Crime Squad where corruption was also rife. 

The cops knew of corruption in Davidson's unit before he was allowed to give evidence to the Macpherson inquiry. An internal Met memo suggested that cops feared the claims would get out.

The 1999 Macpherson report into the murder found incompetence, rather than corruption. 

Yet the files from anti-corruption  “Operation Russia” show detectives believed that John Davidson had long been corrupt. Yet he was allowed to retire and open a bar in Menorca.

The IPCC watchdog investigated Davidson and cleared him. They are now investigating police corruption in the murder of Stephen Lawrence again.

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