stephen lawrence

The last couple of weeks has been marked by a series of revelations over the covert and widespread use of disinformation tactics used by police in the UK.

On Monday, it was revealed that the police had actively tried to smear the family and friends of Stephen Lawrence in order to cover up for their own incompetencies when dealing with the case.

Peter Francis, a former undercover police officer turned whistleblower, said that the Metropolitan police – which was widely criticised for failing to investigate the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence – had asked him to find “dirt” on the Lawrence family.

In an exclusive, uncovered by the Guardian, Francis said that shortly after the death of the teenager, he came under huge and constant pressure from his superiors to “hunt for disinformation” that might be used to undermine those arguing for a better investigation into the murder.

He posed as an anti-racist activist in the mid-1990s in his search for intelligence and infiltrated many protest groups that were campaigning for racial equality.

He told the Guardian: “I had to get any information on what was happening in the Stephen Lawrence campaign. They wanted the campaign to stop. It was felt it was going to turn into an elephant.
“Throughout my deployment there was almost constant pressure on me personally to find out anything I could that would discredit these campaigns.”
Francis was a member of a controversial covert unit known as the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS). This unit has already been racked in controversy after it emerged that officers had routinely started long-term relationships with female members of the protest groups and some had fathered children and later disappeared without a trace once the operation had ceased.

Francis said that his superiors were afraid that the death of Stephen Lawrence would prompt a backlash similar to that seen after the death of Rodney King, whose beatings at the hands of crooked cops led to one of the biggest riots the country has ever seen.

He subsequently infiltrated a number of black justice and anti-racism campaigns and passed on rumours and gossip about the Lawrence family which he gathered, to his bosses.

Many of the black justice campaigns he monitored involved relatives of mostly black men who had died in suspicious circumstances in police custody.

His revelations highlight the concerted efforts that the police went to in a bid to undermine and discredit the Lawrence campaign.

He said: “We were trying to stop the campaign in its tracks.”

One such operation tried to frame Duwayne Brooks, a close friend of Lawrence by sifting through hours of CCTV footage at an anti-racism protest.

They then arrested Brooks and charged him with criminal damage but the case was thrown out by a judge as an abuse of the legal process.

Doreen Lawrence said that in 1993 she was always baffled about why family liaison officers were recording the identities of everyone entering and leaving their household. She said the family had always suspected police had been gathering evidence about her visitors to discredit the family.

The news comes after revelations that Scotland had deployed undercover officers to infiltrate peaceful protest groups such as Greenpeace and Reclaim the Streets.

Undercover officers such as Mark Kennedy and Robert Lambert made headlines in the media after starting relationships with various women as part of their assignments, in order to extract information about the activities of the group.

Not only did some of these men father children with some of the women they were spying on, they also acted as agent provocateurs and played a crucial role in instigating trouble within these groups and encouraging them to get into confrontations with the police, which then acted as a justification for a crackdown by the state.

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