One of Cambridgeshire's oddest traditions gets under way this morning...
Doreen Lawrence 'No Confidence in Met'
The mother of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence has told MPs she does not "know what to believe anymore" amid claims police officers attempted to smear her family.
Appearing before the Home Affairs Select Committee, Doreen Lawrence said she had no confidence in the police and added it was not right for "police officers to investigate each other".
"I have no confidence whatsoever. Over the years, I was beginning to have a level of trust, we had the investigation and the court case... I was beginning to have some confidence. Now I just don't know what to believe anymore."
She added: "You can't have police officers investigating each other. It's proven that's not the right way to do things."
Claims have been made by former undercover officer Peter Francis that attempts were made to find information to smear the Lawrence family following Stephen's murder in April 1993.
Two existing inquiries are to examine the claims - a police investigation into the activities of undercover officers and another into allegations of corruption in the original investigation into Stephen's murder, led by Mark Ellison QC, who is also appearing before the committee.
Mrs Lawrence told the committee that in the wake of Stephen's murder she had felt suspicious of family liaison officers who came to her home, and as if they were spying on her.
"The only time that we were questioning certain actions of the police was when the liaison officers were coming to our home," she said. My understanding of what their role should have been was to give us information about how the investigation was carried out. But they spent most of their time...asking us about who individuals were who were in our home and what their names were."
When asked by committee member Michael Ellis whether she felt as if the officers were spying on her family, she said:
"It felt like that, at the time it felt like that. Whenever we asked questions about the investigation we were never given any answers."
Mrs Lawrence later added:
"We were uncomfortable with the liaison officers, we did not understand why they were questioning and asking who people were in our home."
She said she believes that undercover officers could have searched for information to smear her family because they were outspoken in their campaign for justice.
"At the time it was probably because were were too outspoken and we were questioning how the investigation was run. We were told on a couple of occasions that they had never met any family like us before."
Mr Ellison told the committee that investigators working on Operation Herne, the police inquiry into the activities of undercover officers, had warned him earlier this year that "some aspects of material" they were examining touched on the Lawrence case.
However he would not reveal further details because of a pre-existing agreement to keep "material that belongs to others" confidential until later in his review.
His team has more than 100 crates of material to examine, and is about half way through that process, he said.
The barrister, who led the prosecution of two of Stephen's killers, said he is not sure whether a public inquiry into the undercover police claims is necessary.
"It depends on the result of the work that we are doing in the autumn", he said.
Mr Ellison, who was asked to lead the inquiry in May 2012, said he and junior barrister Alison Morgan had completed seven months worth of work to date.
He revealed that the pair had been paid a combined £190,000 for their services so far.
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