Parents of dead boy are offered fresh hope of justice

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Indy Politics
The parents of the murdered London teenager Stephen Lawrence were given fresh hope yesterday for a judicial inquiry into his death.

A new investigation into the killing of the 18-year-old black student could be launched after discussions between his parents and Jack Straw, the Home Secretary.

Mr Straw said after the meeting at the Home Office - the first with the family since he took office - that there was a "strong case" for the judicial inquiry requested by Neville and Doreen Lawrence.

Mrs Lawrence said after the meeting that the family had lost confidence in the police and the legal system. "What we want to find out is the truth of what went on that night. The only way we're going to find out is through a judicial inquiry. A police inquiry is not enough." A cautious Mrs Lawrence added: "There was no clear indication. He said from what we put to him there was a case, but where he is going to go with it I have no idea."

The family's solicitor, Imran Khan, said: "I think we all came away feeling very positive that we will have some inquiry in future." Mr Straw said in a statement later: "It is not an option to let this matter rest. I recognise a strong case has been made by Mrs Lawrence for some form of inquiry and I am actively considering what she put to me."

He added that he would carefully consider other issues raised in the meeting and "reflect upon the best way to address the widespread concern resulting from this case."

The Lawrence family says the inquiry must address the role of the police after the Crown Prosecution Service discontinued a prosecution for lack of evidence, and a private prosecution collapsed because of insufficient evidence and the inadmissibility of the evidence of a key witness.

Last February, an inquest jury returned a verdict that Stephen had been unlawfully killed in an unprovoked racist attack by five white youths. After the inquest ruling the Daily Mail named the five young men as Stephen's killers, challenging them to sue for libel if the paper was wrong.

In March, the Lawrence family made an official complaint over the way police investigated the murder, claiming they did not take it seriously. And earlier this month, Tony Blair pledged to hunt down the killers, saying there was a "deep sense of injustice" that they had not been brought to book.

The quest for truth

April 1993: Stephen Lawrence stabbed to death at a bus stop in Eltham, south-east London.

July 1993: Crown Prosecution Service says insufficient evidence to continue with prosecution.

April 1994: Private prosecution launched.

September 1995: Cases against two young men dropped because of insufficient evidence.

April 1996: Private prosecution finally collapses. Identification evidence relating to three youths ruled inadmissible, leading to acquittals.

February 1997: Inquest verdict of unlawful killing.

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