Love must triumph over hate, says head's widow

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The Independent Online
As the widow of Philip Lawrence, the headmaster who was stabbed to death outside his school, yesterday wrote an open letter to her husband's pupils saying that his death would not be in vain, the Government announced tough new legislation against knives.

Frances Lawrence, whose letter was read to the pupils over the school Tannoy system, added that she hoped the murder would be a life-long lesson for the youngsters showing the difference between right and wrong.

It was her first public statement since her husband was murdered on Friday, while protecting a pupil from a gang of youths outside St George's Roman Catholic School, Maida Vale, west London. Ian Hamerton, administration manager at St George's, said later: "It was a wonderful letter."

The Prime Minister yesterday confirmed that urgent consultations were under way between the Home Secretary and chief police officers about "harsher and further" policepowers to deal with the possession of knives. The Home Office is expected to back a private member's Bill in order to secure early legislation. As disclosed in the Independent yesterday, the Home Office wants people carrying knives to be subject to immediate arrest and fines of pounds 2,400 or three-month jail sentences. The current maximum penalty is a fine of pounds 1,000.

Det Supt Brian Edwards, who is leading the inquiry, appealed for people with information about Mr Lawrence's death to contact police.

Pupil violence, page 2

An open letter to St George's pupils

As midnight tolled last Friday, your head teacher, and my husband, lost his fight for life.

Your sweet letters to me recognise that, in that moment, the world was deprived of a man of great strength, tenderness and profound understanding.

You tell me how he gave you pride in your school and, even more importantly, in yourselves. You speak of his friendliness and humour.

At home, he would share with me and our children his delight in your daily progress and his conviction that each one of you is a fine human being who has the potential to achieve great things. I share that conviction.

Through your loving letters, I can see how much you care about other people. I can see that you understand the difference between right and wrong and your belief that love should always overcome hatred.

Your head teacher's - my husband's - death will not be in vain if you grow up with these ideals rooted firmly in your hearts.

I have heard so much about you all. I have found great comfort in your letters and comments. I should like to visit you in the New Year.

Violence is not a knife in the hand. It grows, like a poison tree, inside people who, unlike yourselves, have not learned to value other human beings.

Now, I trust you to work as hard as you can, in school and at home, to create a world in which goodness is never again destroyed by evil. FRANCES LAWRENCE

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