Stephen Lawrence?s mother wins payout over ?uncaring? slur

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Stephen Lawrence's mother is to receive what is believed to be a substantial payout in her libel claim against the publishers of a book written by the other victim of the attack that killed her son.

Stephen Lawrence's mother is to receive what is believed to be a substantial payout in her libel claim against the publishers of a book written by the other victim of the attack that killed her son.

Doreen Lawrence, 52, accused her son's best friend of writing a book that contains "vicious attacks" on her character, branding her an "uncaring and overbearing" mother. She alleged that the book by Duwayne Brooks, her son's best friend, suggested she was partly responsible for Stephen's death.

After a year-long legal battle, Mrs Lawrence will go to the High Court today, where she is expected to receive a public apology and substantial damages. The payout is part of a settlement with Times-Life Entertainment Group, which published Mr Brooks's account of his life with Stephen in a book entitled Steve and Me.

Today's agreement between Mrs Lawrence and Times-Life ends what threatened to be an acrimonious and public libel trial expected to recall many of the witnesses who gave evidence to the original Lawrence inquiry. A full-blown trial would have seen Stephen's family and friends forced to choose between testifying in support of his mother or his best friend, and revisited painful memories of 22 April 1993, when Stephen and Mr Brooks were attacked by a racist gang in south London.

Mrs Lawrence, who is represented by Louis Charalambous of Simons Muirhead & Burton, is understood to have been upset by the accusations contained in the book and was prepared to go to court to clear her name.

The hearing would most likely have marred the Lawrences' hard-fought campaign to roll back racism in Britain and change the way the police investigate such crimes.

In a letter written to Times-Life, her solicitors said that Mr and Mrs Lawrence were accused in the book of locking their children out all night and making them go to work even while they were still attending school. The letter further claims that, according to the book, Mrs Lawrence took her children's earnings and made them go without food.

Her lawyers say the book suggests she imposed a "strict" night curfew on her children and that her "rigid and uncompromising attitude" to this meant she was partly responsible for Stephen's death.

They also say that the book implies that Mrs Lawrence's "hostility and insensitivity" jeopardised the private prosecution of her son's alleged killers and that it says Neville and Doreen Lawrence publicly blamed Mr Brooks for Stephen's death and excluded him from any mention in Stephen's memorial service. They add that the book accuses the Lawrences of ostracising Mr Brooks and telling others to do the same.

Mrs Lawrence says the book's description of her is "extremely" defamatory, leaving her no option but to demand compensation for the damage done to her "feelings and reputation".

Initially Mrs Lawrence could not face reading the book when it was first published in April last year, on the 10th anniversary of the death of Stephen. It was another libel claim, brought last year by another of Stephen's friends, that prompted Mrs Lawrence to first read the book. In that case, Elvin Oduro, a graphic designer, won an estimated five-figure payout from the publisher, over claims that Mr Oduro had exaggerated the closeness of his relationship with Stephen and that he was hostile towards white people. In an out-of-court settlement, Times-Life apologised for any distress caused to Mr Oduro.

Mr Brooks said he was angry that the publisher settled the Oduro case without having all the facts heard in open court.

Mr Brooks said: "Why doesn't she sue me, because those words were not written by the publishers. Every single word in Steve and Me comes from my mouth."

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