The recent revelation that the Metropolitan Police shredded a large quantity of documents relating to the Stephen Lawrence murder case, in 2003, should sound the tocsin for anyone who has the slightest concern for the civil rights of our people.
It seems rather too much of a coincidence that, after ten years of investigation of the Lawrence murder, a criminal trial, a public inquiry and the expenditure of tens of millions of pounds of public money, at precisely the time when the abolition of the ‘no double jeopardy’ rule and the retrospective application of the change made possible a further trial of Gary Dobson, the police should inadvertently destroy documents which might have both exonerated him and implicated the real culprit or culprits.
To regard this as run-of-the-mill police incompetence would be naive. For the police to destroy papers that recorded internal investigations into the malpractice of certain of their officers, at the moment those papers were likely to be closely re-examined, in the context of a possible second trial of Mr Dobson, looks like rogue officers panicking and not very subtly attempting to cover their tracks.
The second Ellison review and particularly the judicial public inquiry into undercover policing may turn up some interesting new evidence, provided the judge is not of the ilk of ‘Mad’ Macpherson. But in the meantime it is probably safe to conclude that if certain police officers could destroy documentary evidence on such a scale, then tampering with forensic evidence by intentionally cross-contaminating items of clothing which had been negligently stored for many years would be child’s play for them.
The convictions of Gary Dobson and David Norris are clearly unsafe, in the light of this new evidence of police corruption in the case, based, as they are, entirely upon tenuous forensic evidence which was absent from the first trial. One tiny flake of dried blood and found on the collar? When the jacket of the perpetrator would have been soaked in his victim’s blood! Two hairs in the case of Norris but no blood!
If the Daily Mail is proven to be wrong about these men will it apologize? It does sometimes get things wrong. It was wrong about Hitler, whom it supported in the 1930s. I don’t know whether it ever felt obliged to apologize to the British public for that particular error of judgement. Somehow I doubt it.
The secretly made police video of a group of adolescents, as they were at the time, making racist remarks to one another within the privacy of their own home constituted no evidence of involvement in the murder of Stephen Lawrence. It should never have been made public, let alone broadcast repeatedly over the years, insidiously instilling within the public consciousness the false idea that because these men had supposedly been shown to hold ‘racist’ attitudes they were therefore guilty of the murder of Stephen Lawrence.
By the same token, highly prejudicial and irrelevant as it was, the tape should never have been played to the jury in the trial in 2012 of Dobson and Norris. That it was played to them was a public affront whose only purpose can have been to make assurance doubly sure by reinforcing prejudice in the minds of the jurors against the two defendants.
Actually, to an impartial observer the tape suggests the guiltlessness of the subjects, since at no time during that lengthy surveillance did any of them make any reference to involvement in the Lawrence killing. Nor did any of them do so on any of the numerous subsequent occasions on which they were subjected to covert surveillance or spied on by undercover police officers.
Gary Dobson and David Norris should be freed from their unjust incarceration as soon as possible.