Black undercover officer who spied on Stephen Lawrence campaign named

Rob Evans
Photograph: Family handout/PA

The fake identity of a black undercover police officer who spied on the justice campaign led by the parents of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence has been officially revealed.

The officer, who used the name Anthony Lewis, pretended to be a leftwing and anti-racist campaigner for four years.

During his covert deployment, Lewis gathered “quite a lot” of information about the campaign run by Doreen and Neville Lawrence to try to persuade the police to properly investigate the racist murder of their son, according to an official report.

The police’s investigation into their son’s murder by a gang of white youths became a seminal case in Britain’s race relations.

His identity was published on Tuesday by the public inquiry, led by retired judge Sir John Mitting, which is examining the activities of undercover officers who spied on more than 1,000 political groups since 1968.

Theresa May, when she was home secretary, set up the public inquiry in 2014 after it was revealed that undercover police had spied on Stephen’s parents and their campaign. May called the revelations “profoundly shocking and disturbing”, adding that they damaged the reputation of the police.

Related: Stephen Lawrence case: Theresa May orders inquiry into police spies

Mitting has said one of the crucial issues facing the inquiry will be to establish how the police monitored the Lawrences during the family’s campaign to find out who killed their son.

Police have admitted that at least three undercover officers collected information about the Lawrences’ campaign.

Mitting’s inquiry is also due to scrutinise other controversies surrounding the undercover officers who adopted fake identities and pretended to be political activists for years. These include how the undercover officers often deceived women into intimate relationships and routinely stole the identities of dead children.

Lewis has admitted to the inquiry that he deceived a woman into a long-term relationship while he used his fake identity. The woman, who does not want to be identified, said he had used her “as cover” to add credibility to his fake identity. Their relationship lasted just over a year.

She said he said he came from Oldham and worked as a German translator and a DJ for private parties, using the name of Bobby McGee. She said she never met his family and lived in a “really bland” bedsit in Tottenham, north London.

She has only recently discovered from the inquiry that he was a police spy. Lewis went undercover in the summer of 1991 after he had joined Scotland Yard’s undercover unit, the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS).

In 1993, Lawrence was killed in a racist attack. A judge-led public inquiry later concluded that the Metropolitan police’s investigation into the killing had been “marred by a combination of professional incompetence, institutional racism and a failure of leadership”.

The outlines of Lewis’s espionage were published in 2014 after May tasked a QC, Mark Ellison, to investigate the monitoring of the Lawrences and their campaign.

Ellison reported that Lewis, who at that time was known only as N78, “provided quite a lot of reporting about the Lawrence campaign”.

Ellison wrote :”The closest that [Lewis] got to the Lawrence family was being a spectator at some public meetings where they spoke. [Lewis] never met them or spoke to them. However [he] did pick up intelligence about the Lawrence family campaign through indirect means, and by knowing people who were close to the family.”

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Lewis told Ellison the SDS was not “looking at the Lawrence family. The SDS was simply looking at the organisations around the family.”

Lewis infiltrated the leftwing group the Socialist Workers party and the Anti-Nazi League, according to the inquiry.

The Ellison report records an episode in which it appears that Lewis alleged that a superior officer had been racist towards him. The superior allegedly failed to give him proper credit for a valuable piece of intelligence-gathering and instead gave the credit to a white officer. The superior denied the claim.

Mitting has been publishing identities of undercover officers after adjudicating legal applications on whether their names should be concealed. Lewis, now in his 60s, failed to persuade the inquiry to keep his fake identity secret.