Ellison Review — Statement

– in the House of Lords at 4:51 pm on 6th March 2014.

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Photo of Lord Taylor of Holbeach Lord Taylor of Holbeach The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department 4:51 pm, 6th March 2014

My Lords, with the leave of the House, I will now repeat a Statement made by my right honourable friend the Home Secretary, Mrs Theresa May, in the House of Commons earlier today. The Statement is as follows:

“With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a Statement about the Mark Ellison review. In addition, I would like to update the House on work to improve standards of integrity in the police. In July

2012, I commissioned Mark Ellison QC to conduct a review examining allegations of corruption surrounding the initial, deeply flawed, investigation of the murder of Stephen Lawrence. I also asked Mr Ellison to examine whether the Metropolitan Police had evidence of corruption that it did not disclose to the Macpherson inquiry.

In June last year, Peter Francis, a former special demonstration squad undercover officer, made a number of allegations about his previous role, including an allegation that he was deployed to gather evidence with which to smear the family of Stephen Lawrence. In response, I expanded the terms of reference of Mark Ellison’s review, encouraging him to go as far and wide as necessary to investigate the new claims.

The House will also be aware of Operation Herne, which was set up by the Metropolitan Police in October 2011 to investigate allegations of misconduct by undercover police officers in its former special demonstration squad—the SDS. Operation Herne is led by Derbyshire’s Chief Constable, Mick Creedon, and particular elements are overseen by the Independent Police Complaints Commission. Mick Creedon’s investigation has worked closely with Mark Ellison and will publish its own report on the allegations made by Peter Francis later today.

I will now set out the key findings of the Ellison review. The full report has been published and is available in the Vote Office. The totality of what the report shows is deeply troubling and I would like also to set out my response. I asked Mark Ellison to review and answer three key questions. First, was there evidence of corruption in the Metropolitan Police during the Lawrence investigation? Secondly, was that evidence withheld from the Macpherson inquiry? Thirdly, was inappropriate undercover activity directed at the Lawrence family?

On corruption, Ellison finds that specific allegations of corruption were made against one of the officers who had worked on the investigation of Stephen Lawrence’s murder, Detective Sergeant John Davidson. The allegations were made by a police officer to his superiors, but were not brought to the attention of Macpherson. Ellison finds that this lack of disclosure was a “significant failure” by the Metropolitan Police.

Ellison has looked at the Independent Police Complaints Commission’s 2006 report into these allegations, as well as the Metropolitan Police’s own review in 2012. He finds that both investigations were inadequate.

Ellison also finds the Metropolitan Police Service’s record-keeping on its own investigations into police corruption a cause of real concern. Key evidence was the subject of mass shredding in 2003, and a hard drive containing some of the relevant data was discovered only in November 2013, after more than a year of the MPS searching for it. As a result of this, Ellison has serious concerns that further relevant material that would show corruption has not been revealed because it cannot be found or has been destroyed.

The other question that Mark Ellison set out to answer was whether inappropriate undercover activity had been directed at the Lawrence family. Ellison finds that SDS officers were deployed into activist groups that sought to influence the Lawrence family. On Peter Francis’s allegation that he was tasked with ‘smearing’ the Lawrence family, Ellison has found no surviving record that supports the claim. However, given the lack of written records from the era, and since such tasking would have been more likely to have been in oral rather than written form, Ellison says that he is ‘unable to reject’ the claims that Mr Francis has made.

Apart from the specific claims made by Mr Francis, Ellison reports on a separate and ‘wholly inappropriate’ use of an undercover officer during the Macpherson inquiry. Ellison finds that an officer, referred to as N81, had been deployed into one of the groups seeking to influence the Lawrence family campaign, while the Macpherson inquiry was ongoing. Ellison refers to N81 as,

‘an MPS spy in the Lawrence family camp during the course of judicial proceedings in which the family was the primary party in opposition to the MPS’.

As part of his deployment, N81 reported back to the SDS personal information about the Lawrence family, as well as what is described as ‘tactical intelligence’ around the inquiry. In August 1998, the SDS arranged for N81 to meet Richard Walton, then a detective inspector involved in writing the Met’s submissions to the Macpherson inquiry. SDS files record that they had a ‘fascinating and valuable exchange’.

Ellison finds that the opening of this channel of communication was ‘completely improper’. He finds no discernible public benefit to the meeting taking place, and says that had it been disclosed at the time of the inquiry,

‘it would have been seen as the MPS trying to achieve some secret advantage in the Inquiry from SDS undercover deployment’.

Ellison finds that if it had been made public in 1998, serious public disorder of the very kind so feared by the MPS might well have followed.

In addition, Ellison has reported on the SDS more widely. He comments on the extraordinary level of secrecy observed about any disclosure that might risk exposing an undercover officer. This meant that the SDS operated as if exempt from the proper rules of disclosure in criminal cases, and that there is a real potential for miscarriages of justices to have occurred. In particular, Ellison says there is an inevitable potential for SDS officers to have been viewed by those they infiltrated as encouraging, and participating in, criminal behaviour. He refers to officers in criminal trials failing to reveal their true identities, meaning that crucial information that should have been disclosed was not given to the defence and the court. He also finds that undercover officers sometimes failed to correct evidence given in court which they knew was wrong. This means that there is a chance that people could have been convicted for offences when they should not have been. We must therefore establish if there have been miscarriages of justice.

The Ellison review has also investigated the way in which Duwayne Brooks was treated by the Metropolitan Police. The House will recall that Mr Brooks was a close friend of Stephen Lawrence and was with him when he was murdered. Mark Ellison finds that the MPS’s handling of a 1993 prosecution against Mr Brooks was “unsatisfactory”, but he finds no evidence that this was a deliberate attempt to smear him. Ellison also finds evidence of inappropriate reporting on Mr Brooks from an SDS officer. This included intelligence on Mr Brooks’s relationship with the Lawrence family and on the way in which Mr Brooks intended to approach various legal proceedings, including civil action against the Met. Ellison says that this line of reporting, “should have been terminated”, but instead it continued from 1999 to 2001. Finally, Mark Ellison finds that the covert recording of Mr Brooks and his solicitor in a meeting with the MPS in May 2000, while not unlawful, was neither necessary nor justified.

The findings I have outlined today are profoundly shocking and will be of grave concern to everyone in the House and beyond. I would now like to set out what I believe needs to happen in response. The Ellison review makes a number of findings in relation to the issue of corruption. Ellison finds that there remain some outstanding lines of inquiry which could be investigated both in relation to alleged corruption by a specific officer and possibly other officers. This is of the utmost seriousness. I have asked the Director-General of the National Crime Agency to consider quickly how best an investigation can be taken forward into this aspect of Mr Ellison’s findings and report back to me.

Ellison also refers to possible links between an allegedly corrupt officer involved in the Stephen Lawrence case, Detective Sergeant Davidson, and the investigation into the murder of Daniel Morgan. Ellison finds that the Daniel Morgan panel may therefore uncover material relevant to the question of corruption, and so it is key that the Daniel Morgan panel continues its important work.

Operation Herne has previously found that the Home Office was instrumental in the establishment of the SDS in 1968 in the aftermath of violence at the anti-Vietnam War demonstrations in Grosvenor Square, and it has also previously found that the Home Office initially provided direct funding for the SDS. The Home Office was the police authority for the Metropolitan Police at that time, so the interests of transparency require that we all understand what role the department played. My Permanent Secretary has therefore commissioned a forensic external review in order to establish the full extent of the Home Office’s knowledge of the SDS.

In identifying the possibility that SDS secrecy may have caused miscarriages of justice, Mark Ellison recommends a further review to identify the specific cases affected. I have accepted that recommendation. Mark Ellison will lead the work, working with the CPS and reporting to the Attorney-General. That will mean that proper consideration can be given to those cases and to any implications that may arise. In doing that work, Mark Ellison and the CPS will be provided with whatever access they judge necessary to the relevant documentary evidence. Operation Herne is a criminal investigation, and it is only through a criminal investigation that criminal or misconduct charges can be brought. So it is vital that we allow Operation Herne to bring its current criminal investigations to a proper conclusion, which Chief Constable Creedon informs me should take about 12 months.

There are people inside and outside our country who seek to commit serious crimes and harm our communities, our way of life and our nation, and who wish to harm our children. It is entirely right—indeed it is a responsibility of Governments—to ensure that the police and other agencies have effective powers to tackle those threats and to ensure that robust legal frameworks exist for the use of sometimes intrusive tactics. Undercover officers, sometimes working in difficult and dangerous conditions, have helped bring criminals to justice. They have stopped bad things happening to our country.

None the less, the Ellison review reveals very real and substantial failings. The picture that emerges about the SDS from this report, and from other material in the public domain, is of significant failings of judgment, intrusive supervision and failings of leadership over a sustained period. Mark Ellison has performed a commendable public duty in revealing these issues. His report lays bare issues of great seriousness, in relation not only to Peter Francis but to the SDS more widely.

When I asked Mark Ellison to consider the SDS within the scope of his review, I asked him to tell me in his report whether he felt that a public inquiry was needed to get to the full truth. Although Ellison does not go as far as recommending a public inquiry, he is clear that in respect of the SDS in general, and the Peter Francis allegations in particular, a public inquiry might be better placed to make definitive findings.

I do not say this lightly, but the greatest possible scrutiny is now needed into what has taken place. Given the gravity of what has now been uncovered, I have decided that a public inquiry, led by a judge, is necessary to investigate undercover policing and the operation of the SDS. Only a public inquiry will be able to get to the full truth behind the matters of huge concern contained in Mark Ellison’s report.

The House will understand that an inquiry cannot be set up immediately. It must wait for the conclusion of the criminal investigation and Ellison’s further work to identify possible miscarriages of justice. It is right and proper that those legal processes are allowed to conclude first. Ellison himself identifies his further review as a priority before any public inquiry could take place. That further work will also inform the inquiry’s precise terms of reference.

As I have said, the matters that I have announced today are deeply concerning. More broadly, it is imperative that public trust and confidence in the police is maintained. I do not believe corruption and misconduct to be endemic in the police, and it is clear that the majority of police men and women conduct themselves honestly and with integrity.

In February last year I announced to the House specific measures to address corruption and misconduct, ensure greater transparency, provide clearer rules on conduct, and improve standards of professional behaviour. That work is on track. The College of Policing, which has a clear remit for enhancing police integrity, is delivering a package of measures that includes a new code of ethics. The code sets out clearly the high standards of behaviour expected from police officers. In addition, the Independent Police Complaints

Commission is being expanded and emboldened so that in future it will have responsibility for dealing with all serious and sensitive cases involving the police. I can tell the House that I am reflecting on whether further proposals are needed.

I also want to ensure that those who want to report corruption and misconduct are encouraged to do so. I therefore want to strengthen protections for whistleblowers in the police, and I will bring proposals to the House in due course. We must also ensure that police forces have all the capability they need to pursue corruption, so today I have asked the Chief Inspector of Constabulary to look specifically at the anti-corruption capability of forces, including professional standards departments.

Arrangements for undercover officer deployments are very different today from those in the early 1990s. Under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, all deployments must be authorised as both necessary and proportionate to the issue being investigated. This Government have introduced further safeguards. The independent Office of Surveillance Commissioners is now notified of all deployments and must approve those that last longer than 12 months. We have also increased the rank of the authorising officer. All deployments must be authorised by an assistant chief constable and those lasting longer than 12 months by a chief constable.

There also needs to be a change in culture. We need to continue the work we have already done to reform the police. From this autumn, the police will for the first time have the opportunity to bring in talented and experienced leaders from other walks of life to senior ranks. The College of Policing will provide those individuals with world-class training. Those coming in will bring a fresh perspective and approach, and will open up policing culture. I believe it is one of the most important reforms in shaping the police of the future. I have committed to funding a cadre of new direct-entrant superintendents from this autumn until spring 2018. I challenge all those forces that have not yet signed up to take the opportunity do so. It is vital that the public know that policing is not a closed shop.

We are changing the culture of the police through direct entry, the code of ethics, greater transparency and professionalisation. We are transforming the investigation of cases involving the police through reform of the IPCC. But I would like to do more. The current law on police corruption relies on the outdated common-law offence of misconduct in public office. It is untenable to be relying on such a legal basis to deal with serious issues of corruption in modern policing. So I will table amendments to the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill to introduce a new offence of police corruption, supplementing the existing offence of misconduct in public office and focusing clearly on those who hold police powers.

In policing, as in other areas, the problems of the past have a danger of infecting the present and can lay traps for the future. Policing stands damaged today. Trust and confidence in the Metropolitan Police, and policing more generally, is vital. A public inquiry and the other work I have set out are part of the process of repairing the damage. Stephen Lawrence was murdered more than 20 years ago and it is deplorable that his family have had to wait so many years for the truth to emerge. Indeed, it is still emerging. Understandably, many of us thought that the Macpherson inquiry had answered all the questions surrounding the investigation into Stephen’s death but the findings I have set out today are profoundly disturbing. For the sake of Doreen Lawrence, Neville Lawrence, their family and the British public, we must act now to redress these wrongs. I commend this Statement to the House”.

My Lords, that concludes the Statement.

Photo of Lord Rosser Lord Rosser Shadow Spokesperson (Defence), Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Shadow Spokesperson (Transport) 5:16 pm, 6th March 2014

My Lords, I thank the Minister for repeating the Statement made earlier today in the other place by the Home Secretary. We add our thanks to Mark Ellison QC for the investigation he carried out and for his report.

The Ellison report is devastating and disturbing. If it was not known to be a work of fact one could be forgiven for thinking that it must be a work of fiction—and pretty sensationalist fiction at that. Stephen Lawrence was murdered by racists over 20 years ago and ever since it has been a struggle for the Lawrence family, not least my noble friend Lady Lawrence of Clarendon, to get justice and the truth. The Ellison report shows all too clearly why. We should all show our support for the Lawrence family in their continued determination to get both the truth and justice.

The report covers allegations of corruption by a police officer involved in the investigation of Stephen Lawrence’s murder not being brought to the attention of the Macpherson inquiry by the Metropolitan Police. It covers inadequate investigations into those allegations by both the Independent Police Complaints Commission and the Metropolitan Police’s own review. It covers key evidence being shredded, a Metropolitan Police spy in the Lawrence family camp, and a finding by Mr Ellison of being unable to reject the claims of Mr Francis that he had been tasked with smearing the Lawrence family. It also comments on the special demonstration squad—the SDS—and its officers failing to reveal their true identities in criminal trials or to correct evidence given in court which they knew was wrong. It indicates that there may have been miscarriages of justice. We support a public inquiry into the activities of the SDS and undercover policing—something we called for last year. Can the Minister confirm that, when the time comes, there will be full consultation with all relevant parties on the terms of reference of the public inquiry and the form it will take?

The Ellison report said that there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that at least one of the officers involved in the Lawrence investigation acted corruptly and a full investigation is certainly needed of the outstanding lines of inquiry that the Ellison review identified. It is also important that the House and the Lawrence family should be updated on the timetable and course of this investigation. I hope that the Minister will be able to confirm that that will be the case. Can he confirm that in pursuing all lines of inquiry, consideration will also be given to any lines that could lead to prosecutions of further suspects in Stephen Lawrence’s murder? Only recently we had a Statement about Hillsborough and the failure of the criminal justice system to get truth and justice for the families of the victims. Now we have another Statement that will only further shake confidence in the police and the criminal justice system.

The Statement concluded with the changes that this Government has made or is making to the police and policing. I do not want to comment on those changes today; they have already been the subject of much debate. The Ellison report is about culture, as was the report into Hillsborough. Changing the culture is much harder to deal with than I feel that the Statement infers, because the definition of culture within any organisation can simply be described as the way things are done in that organisation. In this instance, the culture is about why some in the police felt that they were working in an environment where it was acceptable to take the kind of actions described in the Ellison report—and, indeed, in the report on Hillsborough—and what actions or messages had been taken or given or, equally significantly, not taken or given, and from what level in the organisation, that had led them to believe that they could do what they did and not be called to account.

The overwhelming majority of police officers are dedicated and conscientious and carry out their vital work protecting our communities and bringing those who do wrong before the courts with great integrity, honesty and, at times, bravery. They will be dismayed by the findings of the Ellison report. The reputation and standing of the overwhelming majority should not be besmirched by the actions and failures of the few, but when things have gone seriously wrong, we have to pursue these matters until we get the truth and justice for those who have been so seriously wronged, not only because we should be doing it for them but because we will not restore full confidence in our police and the criminal justice system until that happens.

Photo of Lord Taylor of Holbeach Lord Taylor of Holbeach The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department 5:21 pm, 6th March 2014

I thank the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, for his support in receiving the Statement. I think that the whole House will have been shocked by the contents of the Ellison review.

I do not think that any of us here, regardless of party or even our interest in the subject matter, would underestimate the difficulties that this situation engenders. Getting the culture right, as the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, said, is a major task. He is quite right to point to the fact that the majority of police officers are engaged in their task in a true sense of public service, and we should thank them for that, but we need to have in place those vehicles which mean that when we have people who are not performing that task with honesty and integrity, we can deal with them thoroughly. The answer lies within the structure of the police itself. That is clearly the thought behind my right honourable friend’s Statement and her replies to questions in the Commons earlier today.

It is quite clear that we will continue a process of investigation into allegations of corruption and misconduct in the police. That is part of the package of measures which the Home Secretary announced. There is a more serious problem, in that existing convictions may now be insecure as a result of the findings of the report, and the Home Secretary has asked Mark Ellison to lead the investigation in this area, in conjunction with the Crown Prosecution Service and the Attorney-General.

I can only conclude that it is a particularly moving occasion in that we have the noble Baroness, Lady Lawrence, with us for the Statement, and I thank the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, for his support.

Photo of Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon Labour 5:24 pm, 6th March 2014

I thank the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, for presenting to the House what was said by the Home Secretary this morning. On this occasion, I would like to thank the Home Secretary because it was quite difficult for her to present what the findings were this morning. When we embarked on the corruption case, it was because I always knew that there was something. It was very difficult to convince other people around me, especially other police officers and even, at times, the Home Secretary, that there was corruption at the start of Stephen’s case, as I believed. It has taken over a year for this but it has been nearly 21 years since Stephen was killed. There is the fact that we as a family had to go through all this, and still there is more to come out.

I want to say why I decided to stand up now. It is to say thanks to the Home Secretary because, without her instructing Mr Ellison to conduct his review and without his hard work in getting to this stage, we would still be wondering whether there was corruption and about the undercover policing that took place around my family. As I said, it has been 21 years of struggle and no family should have to go through that. It is the job of the justice system and the police service to give service to the whole community, not just to one section. That is what I have been campaigning on for the past 21 years. We were not asking for anything special, just for something that we should have had, just like any other citizen of this country. I thank the Minister for bringing this Statement to the House today, and for all the support that I have had since I have been here, I thank your Lordships.

Photo of Lord Taylor of Holbeach Lord Taylor of Holbeach The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

That support has been well merited. We have had to deal with some pretty difficult issues in this House but this is one of the most potent occasions that I can remember. I thank the noble Baroness for her dignity on this and on other occasions in dealing with what has been, as the Prime Minister referred to Hillsborough being, a double injustice. The Lawrence family has had to endure a chain of injustice as a result of the failure of the institutions in which we all invest so much trust to bring actual justice to her and her family. I say on behalf of the Home Secretary that I know that the noble Baroness, Lady Lawrence, had an opportunity to talk to Mrs May earlier today. I am delighted that she was able to do that.

I apologise that we were not able to give the noble Baroness advance notice of this Statement. As she probably is aware, the Statement needed parliamentary privilege to be made public because of its content. I hope that noble Lords will understand that that was the right choice to make because we felt that this was a truly important opportunity to put into the public domain matters about which we believe the public should know.

Photo of Lord Paddick Lord Paddick Liberal Democrat

My Lords, as the only former senior police officer present in the House this afternoon, I personally thank the noble Baroness, Lady Lawrence of Clarendon, for her dedication, tenacity and dignity in pursuing these issues when, as she has already said, very few people believed her. We owe a great debt to her for pursuing the case in the way that she has done. I also thank my noble friend the Minister for the compassion that he has shown in both the delivery of his speech and the way that he has responded.

The Ellison review is very worrying. Not only did the Metropolitan Police Service fail to disclose evidence of corruption to the Macpherson inquiry, but both the MPS and the Independent Police Complaints Commission failed to reveal the evidence of corruption that this review has finally discovered. The activities of the Special Demonstration Squad and other undercover officers in infiltrating those supporting the Lawrence family and Duwayne Brooks are also a very serious concern. My concern, on which perhaps the Minister can reassure me, is this: how can a judge-led public inquiry get to the truth when the Macpherson inquiry, also a judge-led public inquiry, failed to do so?

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Lord Paddick is corret, another judge led inquiry will not get to the back of this. The only way to get to the back of this is to read and study my blog.
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Submitted by peter martin

Photo of Lord Taylor of Holbeach Lord Taylor of Holbeach The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department 5:30 pm, 6th March 2014

My Lords, that is a question that of course my noble friend is right to ask. I am confident that with the joint activity of Chief Constable Mick Creedon and Mark Ellison, we now have a way to the truth. The truth may well be difficult to get to, and we know that some of the material that we would have liked to have been available to inform the judge-led inquiry will not be because it has been destroyed or lost. None the less, anyone appearing in front of a public inquiry, following the criminal prosecutions that may well follow this review and Chief Constable Creedon’s Operation Herne activity, will have to give evidence under oath. There can be no hiding place for people who have done wrong in this matter. I have confidence that we will get to the truth. The sadness in this story is that it will have taken such a long time to get there.

Photo of Lord Reid of Cardowan Lord Reid of Cardowan Labour

My Lords, I think that anyone who speaks today following the Statement repeated by the Minister will do so with a great sense of humility. It takes nothing away from the laudable actions of the Home Secretary or Mark Ellison to say that this would not have been achieved without the courage and endurance of my noble friend Lady Lawrence and her family over a period of 21 years. It is difficult to imagine the frustration that she must have felt during that period, knowing that she was right and finding it so difficult to tackle the bureaucracies, and indeed the criminal justice system, over that period.

The Deputy Commissioner of the Met has just said that he was shocked, saddened and troubled by the conclusions that were put out today. So he should be. That description applies to everyone in this country who wants to see a police force that is trusted and who recognises that the vast majority of the people in the police force are committed, with integrity, to defending the people of this country. He is right to be shocked, saddened and troubled because this inquiry asked three important sets of questions: about individual corruption in the initial investigation, about the withholding of relevant material and evidence from the Macpherson inquiry, and then wider questions related to that. Those questions were troubling and the answers are even more so. I suspect, even from my brief scanning of the report, that this is not the end but only the beginning of a process of a review, a public inquiry, criminal investigations and then wider aspects. It may well be that with her persistence and endurance, my noble friend has achieved something today not only for her own family but for this country as a whole.

It is natural that most of the report will relate centrally to the tragic murder of Stephen Lawrence, but there are two paragraphs that cast the issue a little wider. Perhaps I will ask a question about the case of Daniel Morgan as well. There is another family seeking the truth—in their case regarding a man who was axed through the head in a pub car park in London. There has apparently been continual obfuscation in that case as well.

It has been suggested that the allegedly corrupt policeman in the case of the initial Lawrence inquiry is in some way connected to the Daniel Morgan murder, and it is hoped that the panel looking at that will note this. Will the Minister go a little further and assure us that any information concerning the allegedly corrupt detective which has been discovered during this inquiry will fully and proactively be made available to those investigating the case of Daniel Morgan? We do not want to see another 20 years pass before another apparent miscarriage of justice is remedied.

Photo of Lord Taylor of Holbeach Lord Taylor of Holbeach The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

I am grateful to the noble Lord for intervening on this. He speaks from considerable experience of the responsibility that my right honourable friend Theresa May has in looking at this matter. He will know how seriously it has been taken.

I agree with him about the Daniel Morgan case. The Statement specifically refers to the fact that the panel should be advised and should take note, and should continue its work in the light of the allegations of corruption—which must be proved by investigation—relating to the officer who has been mentioned, and in the light of any connection there may be between the Stephen Lawrence case and the police investigation into the Daniel Morgan case.

Photo of Lord Dholakia Lord Dholakia Liberal Democrat

My Lords, to many of us, 20 years seems a very long time, but the memory of that day is fresh to many noble Lords who are here today. I do not underestimate the contribution made by the noble Baroness, Lady Howell, in the early days in convincing Jack Straw to mount this major inquiry. It has continuously demonstrated the issues that are now being identified in this report.

We are still not able to answer why some police officers mounted a cover-up of this magnitude. We thank Mark Ellison and the Home Secretary, Theresa May, who has made a very positive response to the inquiry. Is there any reason why the inquiry looking at the role played by undercover agents, and the extended work of Mark Ellison and Chief Constable Creedon, could not go hand in hand? Another year of agony and waiting is a very long time. Two of the most serious allegations relate to the payment allegedly made by the father of one of the accused to the police and to the role of the IPCC, which failed to identify the wrong done by the police. Will the Minister take note that the trust of the black community has now been eroded to such an extent that any delay in getting to the truth may cause lasting damage? It is for this reason that I ask the Minister to publish the stop and search report that is now being held up at No. 10.

We ought to say to the noble Baroness, Lady Lawrence, who is in her place, that we cannot bring back the precious life she has lost, but we must put right the system that has caused so much pain and distress. We ought also to say that the sentiments and humility expressed by the Minister are why the world envies the democratic process we have in this country.

Photo of Lord Taylor of Holbeach Lord Taylor of Holbeach The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

I thank my noble friend Lord Dholakia for his words. He asked specifically about stop and search. As noble Lords will know, the Home Secretary reiterated her view on stop and search in the response today. We are looking to bring forward changes in practice in this area. I agree that it is one of the elements of current policing that has led to tensions that cannot be conducive to harmonious community relations in this country.

My noble friend also asked if the two inquiries, Creedon and Ellison, could work more closely together or side by side, or be merged into one single inquiry. They are slightly different, and are doing different things. Frankly, in my view, the priority is to get the criminal prosecutions out of the way so that we can get a public inquiry in place to investigate the whole picture as quickly as possible. I know that Chief Constable Creedon and Mark Ellison have been working together. It is important that they share as much information as they are able to.