The head of Scotland Yard’s counter-terror unit has been moved to a non-operational role in the wake of revelations concerning his links to undercover operations and the Stephen Lawrence murder investigation.
Commander Richard Walton (above) has been temporarily removed from his post as head of the counter-terrorism command SO15 following yesterday’s publication of Mark Ellison QC’s report into the original Lawrence murder probe, Scotland Yard said.
Mr Ellison revealed an undercover officer – known as N81 – held a meeting in 1998 with Mr Walton, who was then an acting detective inspector working on Scotland Yard’s Lawrence review team, responsible for making submissions to the judicial inquiry led by Sir William Macpherson.
A statement from Scotland Yard said: “Following the publication of the Ellison Report, the deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Craig Mackey, has today made the decision to move Commander Richard Walton temporarily from his post as head of the counter-terrorism command, SO15, to a non-operational role.
“The Metropolitan Police has voluntarily referred the matter to the IPCC (Independent Police Complaints Commission).”
Undercover officer N81 infiltrated a group in the late Nineties, which then sought to influence the Lawrence family campaign to further its own agenda, the Ellison report revealed.
Feedback from N81 to his unit, the Special Demonstrations Squad (SDS), touched on personal details concerning the Lawrence family, such as comments on the split of Stephen’s mother and father, Doreen and Neville Lawrence.
A meeting was set up between N81 and Mr Walton, which was described as a “fascinating and valuable exchange of information”.
A file note from a detective inspector within the SDS, Bob Lambert, said Mr Walton had been able to “increase his understanding of the Lawrences’ relationship with the various campaigning groups” which would be of “great value as he continued to prepare a draft submission to the inquiry on behalf of the commissioner”.
Following Scotland Yard’s decision, Mr Walton said: “I welcome any scrutiny of my role in these events over more than 16 years ago, including in the forthcoming public inquiry.”
Earlier today, former Metropolitan Police commissioner Lord Paul Condon denied authorising undercover police officers to target the Lawrence family.
However the peer, who held the top post at Scotland Yard between 1993 and 2000, backed plans for a wider public inquiry into the activities of police moles.
And Prime Minister David Cameron said the Lawrence family have “suffered far too much”, while current Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe admitted that corruption claims around the case sparked one of the worst days of his career.
Lord Condon’s statement said: “I have read the reports by Mark Ellison QC and Chief Constable Creedon and I am in broad agreement with their findings. I also fully support the further action outlined by the Home Secretary.
“I confirm and restate the comments I made in the House of Lords last month – that at no stage did I ever authorise, or encourage, or know about any action by any undercover officer in relation to Mr and Mrs Lawrence or their friends or supporters or the Macpherson Inquiry hearings. Had I known, I would have stopped this action immediately as inappropriate.
“I made this statement in the House of Lords because for me it is the equivalent of saying it on oath and I am aware of the full consequences of any attempt to mislead the House of Lords.
“Similarly, I always wished the Macpherson Inquiry to have full access to all relevant information and documents held by the MPS and was dismayed and saddened to read the findings about the alleged withholding of information.
“I will continue to do all in my power to support the ongoing investigations into these matters. And I realise the enormous anxiety and concern that these fresh allegations will generate with Mr and Mrs Lawrence and their supporters.”
Mr Ellison also found that one of the officers in the original investigation into Mr Lawrence’s death, Detective Sergeant John Davidson, may have acted corruptly.
It was claimed that he had links to Clifford Norris, the gangland boss father of David Norris, one of the two men who were finally convicted in 2012 of the teenager’s racist murder.
Sir Bernard told the Evening Standard it was “awful” to see the devastation of Mr Lawrence’s parents, Neville and Doreen, at the latest revelations.
Baroness Lawrence was on the verge of breaking down as she gave a statement on the report to the House of Lords yesterday.
“This was a devastating report for the Metropolitan Police and one of the worst days that I have seen as a police officer,” Sir Bernard told the newspaper.
“To see Neville and Doreen Lawrence struggling through their tears was awful. The Met has come to know them well and I have enormous respect for their quiet dignity and powerful determination to see justice, which I share.
“I cannot rewrite history and the events of the past but I do have a responsibility to ensure the trust and the confidence of the people of London in the Met now and in the future. This will need a considered response to meet head-on the concerns that have been expressed in yesterday’s report.”
Speaking during a visit to Bedford, Mr Cameron said: “Well, it is very shocking, what’s been revealed, and I think it’s absolutely right, as the Home Secretary said, to have a full independent public inquiry along the lines of Ellison’s suggestion to make sure we do get to the truth.
“It should not have taken this long and the Lawrence family have suffered far too much.
“But this will get to the truth and will help us to make sure that we have the very best in terms of British policing, which is what this country deserves.”