Family 'were not told of police discovery'

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The bitterness and anger over the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence resurfaced yesterday at a public memorial service to pay tribute to the black teenager.

The Rev David Cruise said that police had failed to inform the Lawrence family about developments in the investigation. He said that Stephen's parents had only found out about the latest breakthrough in the murder probe after reading the newspapers.

Mr Cruise said Stephen's relatives and friends were "grateful for breakthroughs in the investigation which seem to be happening at last". But he added: "Still, there is cause for concern, particularly that still the family are not being kept in touch with the latest developments so that in the last few weeks when there was more news, they had to read it from the newspapers.

"The police have not had the grace to go to the family. Let us hope the police will keep their promises to do so."

Last week the police announced the discovery of a knife and a metal bar in the garden of the former home of two of the original murder suspects in the case, Neil and Jamie Acourt.

Stephen's parents, Neville and Doreen, led the mourners gathered at Trinity Methodist Church in Plumstead, south east London, yesterday to pay tribute. Among them were Trevor Phillips, Labour candidate for London deputy mayor and the Lawrence family lawyer Imran Khan.

The congregation lit 100 candles from a flame kept burning at home by Doreen Lawrence in memory of Stephen. The Kingdom Choir also sang renditions of Lean On Me and Something Inside So Strong.

Mr Cruise said: "We are particularly thankful for the McPherson Report (the report dealing with the police's handling of the Lawrence investigation) which is still being worked out. We are pleased that the police have taken on board some of the things that they have found in their own hearts."

He added: "What we know is that Stephen was killed by a group of thugs because of his colour and that his murderers have never been brought to justice and are still at large."

Mr Cruise said: "While we cannot have any thanksgiving at all that Stephen has died, we surely we must give thanks (that) as a result of his death people have thought much more deeply about 'black and white' in this country."

"The story of Stephen is part of the fabric of this nation that makes us what we are and points us to the future."

After the service Stephen's parents left without comment.