On 22nd April, 2020, we commemorate the life of Stephen Lawrence – a black British teenager who, in 1993, was killed in an unprovoked racist attack by a gang of white men while waiting for a bus.
Five suspects were initially arrested but the charges were dropped and a private prosecution by The Lawrence family of three of the suspects failed.
At Stephen’s inquest, a verdict of unlawful killing ‘…in a completely unprovoked racist attack by five youths’ was delivered by Sir Montague Levine.
The day after this, The Daily Mail newspaper used its front page to name the five men it says killed Stephen Lawrence. It invited them to sue if they were wrong.
27 years ago today, Stephen Lawrence, a young man with a bright future was brutally murdered because of the colour of his skin.#StephenLawrenceDay is a reminder of his life & legacy. #BecauseofStephen we must keep fighting against all forms of hate & institutional racism pic.twitter.com/46iISBVE74— Liberal Democrats (@LibDems) April 22, 2020
Five years after Stephen’s murder, Sir William Macpherson chaired a public Inquiry into the handling of the police investigation. It accused the Metropolitan Police of institutional racism and made 70 recommendations, many aimed at improving police attitudes to racism. The Macpherson Report has been called ‘…one of the most important moments in the modern history of criminal justice in Britain’.
Since then only two of the suspects have been convicted (in 2012). They each received life sentences, however no one else has been brought to justice for this heinous crime.
As a barrister, I’m more than aware of the impact that Stephen’s murder and the subsequent efforts of his family and their supporters have had on the criminal justice system and how we investigate and prosecute crime.
Stephen Lawrence Day is a day for social action, encouraging young people in particular to create the kind of community they want to live in. This approach complements our Lib Dem policy of taking a public health approach to dealing with knife crime.
So, as we remember Stephen and his parents, Doreen and Neville, who have fought tirelessly for justice, let’s use our influence as Lib Dems to end racism and violent crime.