Mansfield to star in TV race drama

MICHAEL MANSFIELD, the QC who represented the family of the murdered black teenager Stephen Lawrence, is to play himself in a television court- room drama that echoes the events surrounding the student's death.

In Trial by Jury, which begins on Monday on BBC2, Mr Mansfield defends an Asian youth accused of taking the law into his own hands after his family is subjected to racist attacks. It is believed that Mr Mansfield will receive about pounds 5,000 for playing the role

The film will scrutinise the role of the police in the criminal investigation and consider allegations of police racism. Unlike the Lawrence case, the victim in this case is one member of a racist gang.

The defendant is charged after he and his father allegedly kidnap their tormentor and throw him from a speeding van, causing him grievous bodily harm. As the trial unfolds, a history of racial incidents and criminal damage directed at the defendant's family is revealed.

Lawyers will play themselves in the programme and the jury will be chosen from ordinary members of the public. The case will be heard by a well- known Old Bailey judge, Brian Capstick QC, who retired last year. Oliver Sells QC will prosecute the case. The programme makers say the verdict will be as realistic as any returned by a jury in a genuine criminal court. It is believed the drama will also draw on Mr Mansfield's own experience of defending Asians in the East End of London during the mid-Eighties, which led to campaigns such as the Newham 7 and Newham 8 and gave rise to the slogan "self defence is no offence".

Imran Khan, the Lawrence family's solicitor, acknowledged yesterday that the drama appeared to have "echoes" of the Lawrence case. Mr Khan said the scenario in which the police end up charging members of the black community after a racist incident is a very familiar one to Asians, adding that he and Mr Mansfield had worked on a number of such cases. The programme would have a resonance for black people who ended up being criminalised because of a racist incident. "I have recently been involved with a dozen such cases where the black person is simply not believed and ends up being arrested."

He said he had recently represented a Somali man from west London who had been terrorised by racists, but was himself prosecuted for grievous bodily harm when he called the police.

"The police took the word of the white men because English wasn't his first language and he wasn't very articulate," said Mr Khan.

The fee paid to Mr Mansfield, the Lawrence family barrister, prompts questions about the amount of money he has made as a result of the publicity surrounding the Lawrence case. It is estimated that he has picked up pounds 175,000 in legal fees for representing the Lawrences, although he has also carried out some work for no charge. His wife, Yvette Vanson, has helped to make three documentaries on the Lawrence affair, estimated to have brought in pounds 75,000 for her television company, Vanson Productions, of which her husband is a director. A spokesman for the Bar Council said that if the case was fictional and not one in which Mr Mansfield was involved then the matter of payment was between himself and the television company.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Reimagined: Gwyneth Paltrow and Toni Collette in the film adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma
Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan
Cannes 2015Dheepan, film review
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine