Head of the Stephen Lawrence murder inquiry who said the Met’s investigation had been undermined by ‘institutional racism’

Sir William Macpherson of Cluny, who has died aged 94, faced significant opposition when he was appointed to head the inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence, but his meticulous report transformed policing in Britain. Macpherson’s conclusion, in 1999, that the Metropolitan police investigation into the south London killing had been undermined by “professional incompetence, institutional racism and a failure of leadership”, set fresh standards for forthright judicial criticism.

The stabbing to death of the 18-year-old student Stephen Lawrence by a white, racist gang in April 1993 as he waited for a bus in Eltham provoked community fury over the way police handled the investigation. A private prosecution brought by the Lawrence family against the suspects resulted in acquittals on the grounds of insufficient evidence.

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