THE FAMILY of murdered musician Michael Menson has been told no charges will be brought against any police officer for the investigation into his death, which was found by the police complaints authority to be negligent and racist.

The Crown Prosecution Service wrote to the family to explain there was insufficient evidence to charge any of the serving or retired officers involved in the botched investigation.

Edmonton MP Andy Love told the Independent he was "disappointed" with the announcement. He said: "There were clear flaws with the initial investigation and they need to look very carefully at why this took place.

"It's a case where it may be that individual officers, for whatever reason, did not take this case as seriously as they should. The police need to reassure the public that any of those officers who are guilty are dealt with."

The 30-year-old rap musician was found on fire in Silver Street, Edmonton, on February 13, 1997. He died of severe burns in hospital two weeks later.

While in hospital, he told his family and a female officer that he had been attacked by four white youths, but police thought Mr Menson, who was mentally ill, committed suicide by setting himself alight.

They did not launch a criminal investigation for 12 hours, failed to secure the location where Mr Menson was found, and never took a statement from the musician, although he was lucid during his time in hospital.

But, in September 1998, an inquest at Hornsey Coroner's Court decided he was unlawfully killed, and a third set of investigators, led by the race and violent crime task force, were appointed.

The new investigation charged three suspects and, in December 1999, one man was found guilty of murder and another of manslaughter.

A three-year investigation into the failings of the initial two investigations by the Police Complaints Authority revealed it to be inept, unco-ordinated and unprofessional, with examples of institutional racism.

But Mr Love said lessons had been learned from the botched police investigations into the murder of Mr Menson and the black teenager Stephen Lawrence, who was murdered in Eltham in 1993.

He said: "I am pleased with the thoroughness with which police have tried to take on board the recommendations of the various reports resulting from these failed investigations.

"There is a real reaction against the failings of the past and I am confident that these issues are being taken on locally. The police are very much of the view that they need to be a friend to the community and I do see signs of improvements."

May 21, 2003 13:00