Lawrence solicitor is honoured for six-year battle for justice

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The Independent Online
IMRAN KHAN, the solicitor who has represented the parents of murdered black teenager Stephen Lawrence during their six-year battle for justice, will tomorrow be named the legal personality of the year.

The Lawrence campaign led to the publication in February of Sir William Macpherson's report into Stephen's murder, a document which it is hoped will inspire a fundamental review of the police and criminal justice system.

Mr Khan is widely admired by fellow lawyers for the way he held firmly to the basic legal principles of the case and did not allow it to be hijacked by different interest groups.

The prestigious award, sponsored by The Lawyer, is voted on by members of the legal profession. The past two winners have been the Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine, and the Prime Minister's wife, Cherie Booth QC.

Sean Brierley, editor of The Lawyer, said Mr Khan had been a clear winner in the poll.

He said that the "professionalism and power" of Mr Khan who is based in Stratford, east London had ensured the admission of institutional racism in the police.

Mr Brierley said: "The fact that lawyers from across the profession, from big City law firms to the high street voted for Imran Khan shows how broad his appeal is. Khan's work has had a major effect on the criminal justice system and public policy in general and has renewed people's faith that, with good lawyers and with conviction, ordinary people can mount effective challenges to the status quo." Mr Khan's nearest rival in the poll was Master of the Rolls Lord Woolf, who last year oversaw the biggest shake-up in the British legal system this century. The Woolf reforms saw the introduction of a wide-ranging package of fast-track procedures and cost-cutting measures, including the replacement of out-dated Latin terminology.

Also popular was Lord Hoffmann. He was at the centre of controversy last year when he failed to declare his wife's involvement with Amnesty International, before sitting on a panel of law lords considering an application to deport General Augusto Pinochet of Chile for trial in Spain.

Other figures who received large numbers of nominations included the Lawrence's barrister, Michael Mansfield QC, and two campaigning lawyers who both died last March. Lord Denning, the former Master of the Rolls died aged 100 and Rosemary Nelson was murdered by a car bomb in Northern Ireland.

Mr Khan will receive his award tomorrow at London's Grosvenor Hotel.