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'Lawrence Five' could face charges

THE FIVE men suspected of murdering black teenager Stephen Lawrence could yet face further race charges after it emerged that detectives were investigating new allegations of racial harassment against them.

The Race and Violent Crimes Unit, re-examining the Lawrence murder, had a high level meeting last week to consider new evidence. That evidence reportedly links the original five, Jamie and Neil Acourt, Luke Knight, Gary Dobson and David Norris, to a wider gang involved in racial abuse. The unit is also considering claims that a number of others, in addition to the suspected 'Lawrence Five', were involved in the fatal stabbing of 18-year-old Stephen in 1993 in south-east London.

Neil Acourt, Knight and Dobson were cleared of the murder at the Old Bailey three years ago and cannot be retried for the same crime.

Scotland Yard said last night that the Race and Violent Crimes Unit wanted to "challenge the assumption that have been previously made surrounding the murder of Stephen Lawrence". A police source said the breakthrough came following a meeting of intelligence analysts. "There are a number of new ways forward," he said.