In the Media

Leveson inquiry: Scotland Yard 'investigated Stephen Lawrence leaks'

PUBLISHED March 15, 2012

Head of Lawrence investigation says contact warned him that a senior member of the Met passed information to the media

Two investigations have been carried out into allegations that a senior member of Scotland Yard passed unauthorised information to the media, the Leveson inquiry has heard.

Detective Chief Inspector Clive Driscoll, head of the Stephen Lawrence investigation that saw two people convicted of the murder in January, said leaks had jeopardised the chances of justice.

Driscoll said in 2011, an anonymous contact called to warn him that a senior member of Scotland Yard leaked information to the media.

Driscoll told the inquiry that leaks from the investigation he headed into the murder of Lawrence, a high-profile case, had worried him, his team and people they were working with.

Driscoll was taken through his written witness statement by Robert Jay QC, counsel to the Leveson inquiry.

Driscoll told how he was contacted before the two suspects went on trial for the murder.

Jay asked: "The contact originally said, it was well known in Fleet Street that this person, that's the senior person, briefed outside official meetings, and later added a more serious allegation."

"That is correct", Driscoll said, adding he did not want to name the suspected leaker because information had been passed to the Met inquiry into bribery and to the official police watchdog.

Driscoll said: "Information has been passed across to the Independent Police Complaints Commission and indeed to Operation Elveden."

After Driscoll said he should not name the senior Met member in public at the Leveson inquiry, Jay said: "As you say, the matter has been taken up through formal channels and there is nothing more that we could or should say about it."

The detective said he did not know either way if the senior member of Scotland Yard was behind the leaks from the Lawrence investigation.

Driscoll cited a Daily Mail piece from November 2007 as containing information about a forensic breakthrough in the investigation that had been known by only a small group of people. He said the placing of such detail in the public domain endangered confidence in the investigation and also affected witnesses who might be needed at court.

Driscoll said: "Without confidence the police are about as much use as a chocolate teapot, because we need people to feel confident to come to us, we need people to be able to tell us their story.

"If people feel threatened, and it is a fact that after this report a witness was visited by one of the suspects ?

"So it had a negative effect on the investigation. It had a negative effect on my team. It had a negative effect on how we reacted to our partners."

One leak to the Daily Mail was published the morning after Driscoll had briefed Lawrence's parents about a forensic breakthrough, with the article suggesting scientists, not police, were to blame for missing the evidence in past examinations.

The inquiry continues and will hear from the Daily Mail's Stephen Wright, who wrote the November 2007 article. Driscoll praised Wright and his paper for their work in pursuing the Lawrence case.

Spokespersons for Scotland Yard and the IPCC were not able to comment on the allegations, or to confirm Driscoll's allegations were being investigated by their organisations.

In his written witness statement, Driscoll said his contact told him the relationship between the senior Met member and "sections of the media" was "rumoured to be corrupt".

Driscoll says he reported the matter to deputy assistant commissioner Mark Simmons, who heads professional standards at the Met. He also said the allegation was taken seriously and the commissioner, who would then have been Sir Paul Stephenson, talked to him about it. Driscoll said: "I understand a confidential operation followed," to which he gave evidence.

Driscoll's statement says: "I have since been informed that the information regarding corrupt practice was fully assessed and found to be third party information and rumour. It could not be corroborated."

He adds that this investigation's findings were passed to Operation Elveden, the inquiry into the alleged bribing of public officials by the media, and to the IPCC. © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds