Former Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Ian Blair, today gave evidence to the MPA’s Race and Faith Inquiry.  He seems not to have lost his knack of saying things in a way which are open to – at best – misinterpretation.  Today, talking about the appallingly mishandled investigation into the murder of Stephen Lawrence, he said:

“I don’t necessarily believe that there was anything racist about the activities of the Metropolitan Police in relation to the Lawrences”.

He thereby appeared to be contesting the finding of the Macpherson Inquiry into the Stephen Lawrence case that the Metropolitan Police was “institutionally racist” and entering into the debate that Trevor Phillips, the Chair of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission has also blundered into ….

But what he then said was that the Metropolitan Police had been “treating people in a very monochrome way … What the investigators did was  they treated the Lawrences as they treated a whole range of working class people and they just did not understand the expectations and experiences of the black community”. 

And that, of course, was essentially the definition of institutional racism used by Macpherson.

What he probably meant was that the individual officers didn’t realise they were acting in a racist way, but somehow it didn’t come out like that.

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