Former Met chief under fire for refuting racism
PUBLISHED: 11:52 09 April 2009 | UPDATED: 16:30 25 August 2010
A FRIEND of Doreen Lawrence said he was 'baffled' by claims by a former police commissioner that the investigation into her son s murder was not racist.
A FRIEND of Doreen Lawrence said he was 'baffled' by claims by a former police commissioner that the investigation into her son's murder was not racist.
Reverend David Cruise, a former minister at Trinity Methodist Church, Plumstead, where the Lawrences used to worship, criticised Sir Ian Blair's claims that the family were treated like 'any working class family'.
The retired Reverend, 73, said that Mrs Lawrence had suffered a 'terrible' time with the investigating officers at Plumstead police station.
He told the Times: "She took a piece of paper with the name of a possible suspect to the police station and the officer screwed it up in front of her.
"I wouldn't even call the family working class, they were middle class if anything, but that didn't seem to matter."
He added: "There was always an assumption that a young chap has been killed but 'oh, it must have been drugs or something.'
"I don't think the police took the idea of a racist killing seriously.
"They were also very slow in keeping the family up to date. Doreen had to wring every bit of information out of them. It was terrible for her."
Every year, on the anniversary of Stephen's death on April 22, Reverend Cruise returns to the spot in Well Hall Road, Eltham where the aspiring architect was killed to say a prayer with Mrs Lawrence.
Mr Lawrence, whose killers have never been convicted, would have been 34 this month.
Last April Mrs Lawrence attended a memorial service in St Martin in the Fields, Trafalgar Square, to mark 15 years since her son's death.
She said that there was an assumption that: "Because of the colour of your skin, automatically if you're a black person, you must be into criminality."
The Macpherson Report of 1999 infamously said the Met was 'institutionally racist' for its collective failure to avoid unwitting stereotyping.
Sir Ian's claim was even rebuffed by his long-term supporter, the former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone.
Talking to the Times on Monday, Mr Livingstone said: "There has been a long history in the Met that middle class people have got and will get a better level of service.
"Sir Ian said it was a working class crime. I don't agree with what Ian said. There was an added dimension of race."
Dev Barrah, from Greenwich Council for Racial Equality, bitterly recalled police relations in the early 1990s.
Police did not treat racist assaults on ethnic minorities seriously then, he said, although communications with police had improved dramatically since then.
Mr Barrah added: "The police need to work with the critics, not get upset. A professional listens and adapts.
"Sir Ian Blair saying now that there was nothing racist about the investigation sounds like denial, it is not recognising the facts."
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