Commissioner statement following allegations about undercover officers
24 June 2013
Statement from Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe
I am personally shocked by the allegations that an undercover officer was told to find evidence that might smear the Lawrence family.
The additional allegations that this was concealed from a public inquiry, and that Stephen's friend Duwayne Brooks was targeted, are also very serious.
If these allegations are true, it's a disgrace, and the Metropolitan Police Service will apologise.
It's imperative that we find out the truth about what happened as quickly as possible.
In February, I asked the Chief Constable of another force, Mick Creedon from Derbyshire, to lead the review into undercover policing, which is known as Operation Herne. This ensured some outside scrutiny of the Metropolitan Police Service. Today, I have asked him to make the Lawrence allegations an urgent priority.
In addition, I am referring these allegations to the Independent Police Complaints Commission, which is already supervising four strands of Operation Herne. This review covers a period of undercover activity stretching across several decades, during which officers were deployed around issues that might provoke violent public disorder. The Metropolitan Police Service will consider with the IPCC whether any further action is required once we have seen the allegations broadcast tonight and the book published tomorrow.
Finding out the truth about what happened 20 years ago is not a straightforward task. There are many, many documents and a large number of witnesses which is complicating the review. It has proved difficult to recapture the way in which police officers in this specialist area have operated since the Special Demonstration Squad was formed in the 1960's.
It is frustrating, therefore, that we are not in an immediate position to give the Lawrence family, Duwayne Brooks and the public the answers they deserve.
Undercover officers have achieved some extraordinary things in the fight against serious crime and violent disorder.
But smearing the family of a murder victim would never be acceptable to me or my officers.
We must now focus on examining these allegations of inappropriate activity so that the public can see that police are held to account for past actions.