Wave of anti-racist measures coming

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The Independent Online
THE MACPHERSON inquiry report into the death of the black teenager Stephen Lawrence will be used by the Government today to take Britain towards the historic goal of stamping out racism in this country.

Jack Straw, the Home Secretary, will announce measures designed to eradicate racist behaviour from every layer of society, from the schoolroom to the boardroom, by changing people's attitudes towards ethnic minorities.

It will be the most far-reaching attempt to tackle racism since the Scarman report into the riots in the inner cities in the early 1980s under the Thatcher government.

"Hopefully this process will be a step down the long road towards stamping out racial discrimination in Britain," said one government source.

The leaking of the Macpherson report led to a warning by Downing Street that any minister found to be responsible would be sacked. All Home Office ministers were questioned about the leak yesterday by the Permanent Secretary at the Home Office. Mr Straw will announce in a Commons statement measures to tackle the "institutionalised racism" found by Sir William Macpherson of Cluny in the police.

Sir Paul Condon, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, is fighting to save his job. He will be criticised for "lack of rigour" in following up the complaints about the way the Lawrence inquiry was handled and will be forced to acknowledge the findings and the need for action. Sir Paul has the support of the Home Secretary.

Sir Herman Ouseley, the chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, said that if acted upon, the Macpherson report could move Britain towards achieving the CRE's goal of ending racial discrimination. "The potential of the report to move us in that direction depends on the level of our collective will to contribute to that goal. Much of the responsibility to take us forward depends on those of us in leadership positions being prepared to use our influence, through words and deeds to put racism out of business," he said. Sir Herman was speaking at a meeting in the National Liberal Club where Paddy Ashdown accepted a CRE leadership challenge to stamp out racism.

The Liberal Democrat leader said: "Stephen Lawrence died, at least in part, because as a society we have not been sufficiently vigilant against racism as an endemic part of our lives and of our communities. In this sense we all bear a responsibility for his death and for the suffering of other unknown and unreported cases. Learning from Stephen Lawrence's death is not just a challenge for the police. It is a challenge for all of us."

Mr Ashdown told how racism was "endemic" across Britain including his own rural Yeovil constituency. He described how an Asian restaurant 350 metres from his office had been subjected to three-and-a-half years of "systematic racist abuse and intimidation" before he intervened.