THE SCANDAL involving police corruption deepened yesterday after the Independent newspaper revealed the existence of a secret investigation, ‘Operation Zloty’, that uncovered dozens of corrupt detectives who were in the pay of the criminal underworld.
This further indictment of the Metropolitan Police comes after it came to light that an entire investigation into police corruption, ‘Operation Othona’, containing ‘lorry-loads’ of documents, videos and photographs, was shredded by the police.
Some of those destroyed files, it emerged, would have greatly benefited the case of teenager Stephen Lawrence who was murdered by racists in 1993.
The Macpherson Inquiry into the police handling of the Stephen Lawrence case in 1998 concluded the police force to be institutionally racist. These new revelations go a lot further.
‘Operation Zloty’ spanned at least nine years. It contained conclusions from the shredded ‘Operation Othona’, that at least a dozen rogue detectives operated with ‘virtual immunity’ and worked hand-in-hand with organised criminal gangs, accepting pay-offs and bribes.
However, the conclusions from ‘Operation Zloty’ have remained hidden from the public for over a decade – until now.
The ‘long-term intelligence development operation’ included information on police corruption originally gathered by 17 other investigations. One of those 17 was ‘Operation Othona’ whose lorry-load of documents were ‘inexplicably’ shredded sometime around 2003.
Crucially, Zloty included evidence from Othona about a ‘persistent network’ of corrupt officers which could have been beneficial to a landmark review commissioned by the Home Secretary into how the Stephen Lawrence murder was handled by the Metropolitan Police.
Mark Ellison QC was forced to inform Theresa May earlier this month that he could not finalise conclusions on whether police corruption tainted the Lawrence case because a ‘lorry-load’ of Othona material was ‘mysteriously’ shredded by the Met more than 10 years ago.
However, the emergence of Zloty means some of the Othona material may still exist – and the network of corrupt officers could still be prosecuted. The Justice 4 Grainger campaign have had a camp outside the Greater Manchester police headquarters for the last month demanding justice for Anthony Grainger who was shot dead by police.
Wesley Ahmed commented on ‘Operation Zloty’ saying: ‘When I heard about the destroyed documents I immediately thought that this is another case of police corruption. The only reason that you destroy something is to hide its content, to protect the police officers that protected Stephen Lawrence’s killers. If that evidence was not destroyed then Stephen Lawrence’s killers would have been arrested sooner.’
The contents of ‘Operation Zloty’ should now be made public, and police officers who were breaking the law should be prosecuted.