TV enters row over Lawrence murder

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The Independent Online
THE media campaign against five men last week publicly accused by the Daily Mail of the murder of the black teenager Stephen Lawrence went a stage further last night.

Channel 4 brought forward a documentary on the killing, originally due to be televised on 1 March, which claimed to show at least three of the five making obscene racist remarks and demonstrating violent stabbing moves with combat knives.

The scenes were taken from a surveillance video made by police trying to establish a motive for the killing and were captured by a camera hidden in the home of one of the five.

C4 executives made their last-minute decision to show the documentary, The Stephen Lawrence Story, at a meeting on Friday morning. A spokesman for the channel said the programme was brought forward out of a feeling of public duty, rather than as a response to the front-page coverage in the Daily Mail that day.

"Our programme is a measured account of the way the Stephen Lawrence case has developed over the last four years. We do not want to be bracketed with the Daily Mail," he said.

"We did show the video and we did name the individuals who were the subject of the public prosecution, but we are not screaming 'Murderers!'"

The programme-makers will not reveal exactly how they acquired the police video, but they stand by their decision to include the footage, although it is impossible to be certain of the identities of all the men in view.

"In the light of the inquest this week, I think it was important and correct to show this footage," said the producer of the documentary, Peter Lee-Wright.