The Lawrence Report: Black press gives report its backing

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The Independent Online
BRITAIN'S BLACK newspapers today give a qualified welcome to the Stephen Lawrence inquiry report.

The Journal, the weekly based in south London, had an exclusive with the Prime Minister in which he urged the black community to get involved in politics to help stamp out racism. The Journal interview reflects Downing Street's stated aim of bypassing the national newspapers and getting its message across through specialist and local titles.

Brixton-based The Voice, which featured Neville and Doreen Lawrence on their front four days after Stephen's murder in 1993, has an interview with Sir Paul Condon. He warns the paper against taking an anti-police stance. The Voice is the biggest black newspaper, with a circulation of 45,000.

"We welcome the report and what it stands for," said Matthew Griffiths, the news editor. "It does prove that someone up there is listening to us. But we'd like to see it go a little deeper. Still no one has lost their job over it. And still no one has ended up behind bars."

The Journal sees the Lawrence report as a watershed in British race relations. It says the police force has been able to claim there are just a few "bad apples" in its ranks who are racist, since the Scarman inquiry into the Brixton riots came to that conclusion.

The Macpherson report, says The Journal, discredits that notion and makes "shattering" reading for Sir Paul.

Tony Blair and William Hague tell The Voice they want more black people to join political parties. "I accept that black people have been disappointed and disillusioned with the political process," says Mr Blair. "But change is happening."

William Hague admits: "The Conservative Party has not done enough to win the support and commitment of many of Britain's ethnic minority groups. I do not expect people to turn to my party overnight, but we are adopting a more vigorous approach to recruitment from the ethnic minorities."