THE head of London’s police is going to be questioned today about the destruction of a ‘lorry-load’ of evidence of widespread police corruption and criminal activity.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe will face questions from a committee of MPs over why the information was destroyed in a two-day operation in 2003.
An internal ‘restricted’ briefing memo was uncovered by QC Mark Ellison during his recent review of the police investigation into the murder of Stephen Lawrence.
The memo, written by Detective Superindent David Hurley, stated that corrupt officers:
• Stole and trafficked illegal drugs;
• Shared reward payouts with informants;
• Sold confidential police intelligence to criminals;
• Fabricated applications for more rewards and accepted bribes to destroy and fabricate evidence.
The memo also stated that:
• The ‘lorry load’ of destroyed information related to a corruption probe;
• The information could have shed light on Stephen Lawrence’s murder.
The ‘lorry load’ of destroyed evidence referred to the vast majority of papers which cannot be found from Operation Othona, which was a top secret multi-million-pound Metropolitan Police anti-corruption inquiry.
Investigators in the inquiry were gathering evidence of wholesale criminal behaviour by police officers during an undercover three-year probe.
Operation Othona concluded that criminal gangs were working closely with a ‘small but dedicated network of corrupt police officers’.
Some computer files relating to Operation Othona were found on a hard drive in a cardboard box in the Metropolitan Police professional standards department in November 2013.
But paper copies of the intelligence were missing.
The Ellison review heard that the ‘lorry load’ of information containing the findings of the inquiry – including documents, photographs and videos – were shredded during a two-day operation in 2003.
Earlier this month Scotland Yard said of the destruction of the evidence: ‘At this time the Met has little detail on the circumstances that led to the shredding.’
Doreen and Neville Lawrence have long suspected that corruption played a part in the police investigation into their son’s racist murder in 1993.