Doreen Lawrence, the mother of murdered teenager Stephen, has called for undercover officers who infiltrated political campaigns and spied on her family to be identified.
She issued the call as the home secretary, Theresa May, is due to announce the remit of a public inquiry into undercover policing following a series of disclosures in recent years.
Last year, May ordered the inquiry following the “profoundly shocking and disturbing” revelations that a Scotland Yard undercover unit spied on the Lawrence family and their supporters while they pressed police to carry out a proper investigation into Stephen’s murder.
Pressure had already been mounting for an inquiry after it had been revealed that undercover officers had formed long-term relationships with female campaigners, stolen the identities of dead children, and hidden key evidence in court cases.
In an interview with the Guardian, Lawrence drew a parallel between the undercover infiltration of political groups and the police’s bungled handling of their investigation into the murder of her son by a racist gang in 1993. “For far too long, the police have had a mantra of ‘we can do whatever we like’. That’s what I found after Stephen’s murder.”
Referring to the undercover officers who spied on her family, she said: “They were doing the deception. Why should they be allowed to be anonymous while people like me had their faces all over the newspapers ? These people were not innocent. They knew what they were doing.”
A key decision facing Pitchford’s inquiry will be the extent to which the undercover officers are identified during the hearings, and whether concealing them would undermine the public’s confidence in the inquiry.