Socialist Worker

After scandal of police corruption in Lawrence case - Cop corruption kills

Undercover cops, corrupt links to informants, shredded evidence and a murdered detective add up to a toxic scandal for London’s Met police. Simon Basketter investigates

Issue No. 2394

Protesting against police racism in the Stephen Lawrence case

Protesting against police racism in the Stephen Lawrence case


The Metropolitan Police set up an office in 1993 in Tintagel House, an anonymous block near the MI6 building in Vauxhall, south London. They sent out the message that it was there to receive intelligence on bent coppers. 

Like the investigation, the office was a fake. It was one of countless anti-corruption drives in the Met.

But Operation Othona did gather intelligence.

According to lawyer Mark Ellison, it found it “in particular in some of the specialist squads, where apparently successful officers were in fact out of control and acting corruptly in organised groups with criminals. 

“Those criminals were also often their informants. 

“The officers were recycling drugs or other property seized as a result of the informant’s information back to the informant to sell, and then sharing the proceeds. 

“Corrupt officers were providing police information, or ‘losing’ evidence for payment.”

Ellison has written a report into the  the case of Stephen Lawrence, who was murdered in 1993.

On requesting the Othona intelligence in July 2013, Ellison was informed that none of the extensive intelligence could be located, save a single A4 ring binder found at Scotland Yard.

The file was called “The Dark Side of the Moon—Everyone knows it is there but not many can see it”.

It lists examples of corruption, including unauthorised Police National Computer checks (PNC), providing criminals with details of police operations and documents, “losing” evidence, offering protection from arrest and prosecution, and conspiring with criminals and informants in serious criminality. 

It also says, “Paranoia about what might be revealed if corruption was investigated with vigour . . . [is] running high in some very powerful and influential circles.”

Roy Clark, who headed Othona, expressed surprise that the evidence was missing to Ellison. “I’d be shocked if it doesn’t exist,” he said. 

“There would be no good reason to get rid of it... it was gold dust stuff. It was really gold dust... when I left it existed because there were still jobs sparking off of it.” 

Clark had left it “in the hands of Andy Hayman, Detective Superintendent Bob Quick, David Wood and John Yates”.

Ellison notes, “We have very recently been informed that in 2003 there was ‘mass-shredding’ of the surviving hard copy reports generated by Operation Othona.”

Gangsters paid detectives to report on police operations and then lose or weaken evidence.

Drugs and goods seized from informers were being handed back for them to sell and share the proceeds.

In the case of Stephen, murdered in a racist attack, a lead detective John Davidson was assigned to the case. 

He was in a corrupt relationship with Clifford Norris, the drug-dealing father of David Norris, who was convicted of Stephen’s murder in 2012.

The cop—now retired and living in Menorca—started working on the Lawrence case two days after the murder.

Davidson was told that David Norris and Gary Dobson were responsible for the racist murder days after the stabbing at a bus-stop in Eltham. 

Davidson paid the witness £50 and kept quiet.

These claims were made by former colleague Neil Putnam, a crooked cop turned supergrass.

Davidson and Putnam were part of the so-called “groovy gang”—detectives based at the East Dulwich office of the now disbanded south east regional crime squad (Sercs).

Between 1999 and 2001, supergrass evidence jailed five detectives for serious corruption offences. 

Essentially this involved ripping off drug dealers.

Hundreds more were never prosecuted.

Detectives in the squad routinely carried a “First Aid kit”. It contained a balaclava, drugs and a gun. It was used to plant evidence.

Officers were involved in both covering up and colluding with criminal gangs.

Money was made—and also victims.

There is the unsolved murder of Daniel Morgan, a private investigator who had been close to exposing corrupt police but was found in a pub car park in 1987 with an axe wound to his head. 

According to Ellison, “In early February 2014, we were informed by the MPS (the Met) that there is no record of DS Davidson being involved in the investigation into the murder of Mr Morgan. 

“It has been suggested to us that the intelligence analysis in which the suggested link was made is incorrect. 

“We have some reservations about accepting this assertion, in the absence of further consideration of the material held by the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel. 

“In any event, a number of the officers involved in the Daniel Morgan investigation can be linked to DS Davidson.”

The Ellison Review points out “the fact that a number of the officers who were/are under suspicion of corruption were connected to the Daniel Morgan murder investigation (on which DS Davidson was identified as having also possibly worked at some stage).”

Not in the Ellison review are documents obtained by the BBC, which show Davidson was directing and allocating tasks to subordinate police officers for action. 

There is an ongoing panel of inquiry into Daniel Morgan’s killing. 

It has failed to make progress since it was created nearly a year ago. 

According to Ellison, the inquiry has failed even to index the material it has been given. 

The impasse has frustrated members of Daniel Morgan’s family. 

They believe police have spent more than two decades trying to stop the truth from becoming public about the role played by corrupt officers in shielding the killers.  

Daniel Morgan’s brother Alastair fears it is “inconceivable” information about his brother’s killing was not held in destroyed files.

“It’s a nasty mess once you start looking into it,” according to Alastair.

He said a corrupt “firm within a firm” was working at the Met and that cover-up was the force’s “default position on everything virtually”.

“It’s inconceivable that there was no evidence of my brother’s case in those files,” Alastair said. “As with the Lawrence case I think it is inconceivable.

“The fact that those files have been shredded is outrageous. Everything that is coming out at the moment is new to me and it is disturbing.

“There has been a big cover-up at the top of the Met.

“This is going to run, it’s not going to stop here.”


Know them by the company that they keep

Daniel Morgan’s former business partner, Jonathan Rees, was one of three men acquitted of his murder. 

Rees and his company, Southern Investigations, were widely used by journalists to find out secret information.

The police have admitted that the first investigation into Daniel Morgan’s murder was corrupted by the presence of Sid Fillery on the investigating team.

Fillery interviewed Rees, but never disclosed to the investigation that the pair were close friends and business associates. 

Fillery became Rees’s partner after leaving the police.

Andy Coulson, when editing the News of the World, rehired Rees after Rees was released from prison in 2005 following a conviction for another crime.

David Cameron went on to hire Coulson as a spin doctor.

Ellison notes, “Intelligence report relating to SK who was under investigation for conducting Police National Computer (PNC) checks for John Davidson, believed to be working for Mayfayre Associates at the time.”

Mayfayre Associates was a private investigations company run by two former Met detectives, Keith Hunter and Alec Leighton.

The Met knew it was allegedly employing John Davidson to obtain illegal PNC checks. 

Leighton and Pamela were directors of other companies. 

One had as another director, Jonathan Rees.


‘It’s to do with their arrogance. It shows that the police lie and lie’

Janet Alder’s brother Christopher died in police custody in 1998. Video footage showed cops making monkey noises at him as he lay dying on the floor of Hull police station.

Last year allegations were made that police officers spied on Janet during a 2000 inquest into Christopher’s death as she fought to get justice for her brother.

The revelations that police spied on Stephen Lawrence’s family have come as no surprise to her.

Janet told Socialist Worker, “It’s all to do with their arrogance. It’s disgusting, but not surprising.

“I can relate to the Lawrence family—but this is all too late for them. But it does show that police constantly lie and lie and lie.”

The Independent Police Complaints Commission is currently investigating allegations of spying into the Alder family.

“Police went through our family background from the time we were in care,” said Janet. 

“They accessed our social services records—what’s that got to do with anything?

“Why would you spy on a victim unless something untoward has been committed by the police?

“They do this to all the campaigns, there’s no justification for it.

“But it doesn’t just stick with the Metropolitan Police, it’s the police as a whole—we’ve got to challenge it.”


‘Campaigners have no faith in the police investigating themselves’

Blacklist campaigners have called for the public inquiry into undercover police spying on the Lawrence family to be given a wide enough remit to investigate police collusion with blacklisting. 

On the day that the home secretary announced a public inquiry into Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) officers spying on the Lawrence family, Operation Herne published its second report into undercover police officers. 

Blacklist victims condemned it as a whitewash. It describes police discussions with blacklisting organisations as driven by “civic duty”.

Dave Smith, secretary of the Blacklist Support Group, said, “The Operation Herne report demonstrates exactly why victims of undercover police surveillance have no faith in the police investigating themselves.

“There is already irrefutable evidence in the public domain that officers from undercover police units actually attended secret Consulting Association blacklist meetings. 

“Yet this is not even mentioned by Herne. 

“Undercover SDS officers are known to have posed as construction workers and infiltrated picket lines and union meetings. 

“Information on some blacklist files could only have come from the police or the security services. 

“Only a fully independent public inquiry into the full extent of police links with corporate spying will expose the undemocratic shady practices.

“Any public inquiry should not be narrowly focused on the Lawrence case but should encompass the sexual relationships with female activists, Hillsborough, environmental and anti-racist campaigners, blacklisting and police collusion with big business.”     


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