The Lawrence Report: `The murder and the failure to convict is an affront to society'

Thursday 25 February 1999 00:02

IN 47 CHAPTERS and 335 pages of hard-hitting prose, Sir William Macpherson has taken apart the investigation into the death of Stephen Lawrence in the minutest detail. His report begins with a colour photograph of Stephen.

The outline

IN THE first three chapters, Sir William outlines the murder itself and the scope of his inquiry into it. He states: "We do believe that the debate about policing and racism has been transformed by this inquiry and that the debate thus ignited must be carried forward constructively and with imagination into action."

Stephen's parents

IN CHAPTER four of the report, Sir William turns to Stephen's parents, Neville and Doreen, who he describes as "the mainspring of this inquiry".

He says: "Their persistence and courage in the face of tragedy and bitter disillusionment and disappointment have been outstanding...their dignity and courtesy have been an example to all throughout."

Sir William records the statements of the Lawrences outlining their hopes for the inquiry. Mr Lawrence said: "I hope that this can be a step towards ensuring that when another tragedy is suffered by the black community the police act responsibly and investigate the crime properly. When a policeman puts his uniform on he should forget all his prejudices.

"If he cannot do that, then he should not be doing the job because that means that one part of the population is not protected from the likes of those who murdered Stephen."

Mrs Lawrence said: "I would like Stephen to be remembered as a young man who had a future. He was well loved, and had he been given the chance to survive maybe he would have been the one to bridge the gap between black and white because he didnt distinguish between black or white. He saw people as people."

But Sir William Macpherson presents a shocking picture of the "patronising" treatment by the police of Stephen's parents and his best friend Duwayne Brooks. He says: "These extracts, and indeed their full statements show that Neville and Doreen Lawrence feel deeply that they were patronised and side-lined. Together with many others they have an inherent distrust which the police must move fundamentally to overcome.

"Any protestation that Mr and Mrs Lawrence's attitude stems from perception and not reality must be abandoned. Only when the police show movement can they expect response from minority ethnic communities. The shift must be fundamental and may take time. But it must be achieved."

He adds: "We believe that the present Government and society as a whole do have the will to achieve that change. Let us all hope that the opportunity will not be missed. Joint action to achieve it can and must then follow."

Duwayne Brooks

IN CHAPTER five, Sir William shows that the patronising attitude shown to the Lawrence parents was also extended to his friend, Duwayne Brooks, the key witness in the case.

Sir William points out: "Mr Brooks was plainly fortunate to have escaped unharmed physically. The trauma of the attack and the terrible murder of his friend and all that followed, has left him seriously affected and stressed. So much so that his doctors strongly advised that he should not be called as a witness or questioned at this inquiry."

Sir William is highly critical of the treatment of Mr Brooks by the police. He says: "He was a primary victim of the racist attack. He is also the victim of all that has followed, including the conduct of the case and the treatment of himself as a witness and not as a victim."

He said there was no evidence that any officer tried to understand that Mr Brooks needed "close, careful and sensitive treatment".

The report states: "We are driven to the conclusion that Mr Brooks was stereotyped as a young black man exhibiting unpleasant hostility and agitation, who could not be expected to help and whose condition and status simply did not need further examination or understanding. We believe that Mr Brooks' colour and such stereotyping played their part in the collective failure of those involved to treat him properly and according to his needs."

The report concludes: "We do not believe that a young white man in a similar position would have been dealt with in the same way."


IN CHAPTER six, Sir William reports on the issue of racism which he describes as "central and vital" to the inquiry.

His finding is that despite the protestations of officers in the case that they are not racists, the conclusion that racism played its part in this case is fully justified".

Sir William observes that the "chilling condemnation" by Neville and Doreen Lawrence that "their colour, culture and ethnic origin, and that of their murdered son, have throughout affected the way in which the case has been dealt with and pursued" has sounded through the months of the inquiry.

He concludes that the Lawrences are the victims of institutional racism in the police service, which the report defines as "the collective failure of an organisation to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture or ethnic origin. It can be seen or detected in processes, attitudes and behaviour which amount to discrimination through unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness, and racist stereotyping which disadvantage minority ethnic people".

Sir William identifies four areas which suggested that the Lawrence family, directly or indirectly, suffered from the institutional racism of the police.

The first, the report says, was "in the actual investigation including the family's treatment at the hospital, the initial reaction to the victim and witness Duwayne Brooks, the family liaison, the failure of many officers to recognise Stephen's murder as a purely `racially motivated' crime and the lack of urgency and commitment in some areas of the investigation".

Secondly, the stop and search figures from across the country are seen by the inquiry team as evidence of institutional racism in the police. The report notes that "there remains in our judgment a clear core conclusion of racist stereotyping".

Thirdly, the countrywide under-reporting of racist incidents displaying a lack of confidence in the police by minority ethnic communities.

Finally, the failure to train police in race awareness was shown in the fact that "not a single officer questioned before us in 1998 had received any training of significance in racism awareness and race relations throughout the course of his or her career".

According to Sir William, there must be an "unequivocal acceptance" of the problem of institutionalised racism before it can be addressed. He calls on senior officers to recognise, acknowledge and accept the problem.

In what appears to be a reference to Met Commissioner Sir Paul Condon's refusal to accept that his force was institutionally racist he adds: "Any Chief Officer who feels unable so to respond will find it difficult to work in harmony and co-operation with the community in the way that policing by consent demands."

The report accepts that it has heard no evidence of overt racism or discrimination. But it criticises the use of "inappropriate expressions" such as "coloured" or "negro" which it says are "now well known to be offensive" and display "insensitivity and lack of training".

But the report identifies numerous examples of "unwitting racism" by the police, which it said could arise from "lack of understanding, ignorance or mistaken beliefs" or from "patronising words" or unfamiliarity with cultural traditions.

The report notes: "There can be a collective failure to detect and to outlaw this breed of racism. The police canteen can too easily be its breeding ground."

The report notes that the officers involved in the Lawrence investigation were emphatic that they were not racists but points out that some of them refused to see the racist motive of the murder. Sir William is particularly critical of Detective Sgt John Davidson, who "throughout his evidence made it emphatically clear that he refused to recognise that the attack was purely racist".

Among Sir William's recommendations directly targeting racism in the police are new disciplinary procedures to dismiss officers for racist words or actions and race awareness training for all police staff.

The five suspects

IN CHAPTER seven, Sir William addresses the young men who he describes as "the five suspects". The report names them as Neil and Jamie Acourt, David Norris, Gary Dobson and Luke Knight.

It states: "These five youths have always been the prime suspects in respect of Stephen Lawrence's murder. Many other names have surfaced in the information reaching the investigation team but these five have always been singled out. In particular, as we have seen, the Acourts and David Norris have featured from the start."

Sir William quotes extracts from the notorious secret video used to film the suspects without their knowledge.

It quotes Neil Acourt saying: "I reckon that every nigger should be chopped up mate and they should be left with nothing but fucking stumps."

David Norris said: "If I was going to kill myself do you know what I'd do? I'd go and kill every black cunt, every Paki, every copper, every mug that I know."

Sir William states: "The whole sequence showed violent racism at its worst, and while one youth may say more than others they plainly all shared the bigotry and the extremes displayed by each other; both in language and in the brandishing and pretended stabbing with knives."

He goes on: "The only true purpose or reason for calling the youths [to the inquiry] at all was to enquire whether their evidence helped us to any conclusions as to the policing of the murder. In that respect the extreme nature of their racism and violent tendencies suggest to us that they should have been "spotted" for what they were if good intelligence and information had singled them out earlier and detected their evil presence on the estate. Then perhaps they would have been even more obvious targets for early arrest."

Sir William rules out prosecuting the youths for perjury in their evidence to the inquiry.

He states: "Our own judgment, supported by legal advice is that such prosecution should not be proposed by this inquiry. Their evidence was evasive and vague, but that does not mean that it would be possible to prove that they were lying in their factual answers given. This inquiry is not in any event a prosecuting authority."

Clifford Norris

IN CHAPTERS eight and nine, Sir William reports on police corruption and the investigation into the stabbing of white teenager Stacey Benefield.

He looks at the role of Clifford Norris, father of David and a notorious south London villian. Norris senior is said to have tried to bribe Benefield to drop a case against his son, a suspect in the stabbing.

The report states: "The Norris factor is said to have involved the pulling of punches and the deliberate slowing down and fudging of the investigation so that the suspects and in particular the suspect David Norris, were protected and ineffectively pursued during the whole of the first investigation."

It adds: "Even with the knowledge that the evil influence of Clifford Norris was at work the first investigation team failed to seek him out. Positive efforts should have been made to remove Clifford Norris because of his obvious malign influence."

But the report concludes that "it is right we should say at once that no collusion or corruption is proved to have infected the investigation of Stephen Lawrence's murder."

Initial response

IN CHAPTERS 10 and 11, the report tackes the initial police response to Stephen's stabbing and the failure of police to administer first aid at the scene.

The report highlights failings of the police to take the necessary actions in the immediate aftermath of the attack and condemns police for "a total lack of direction and control". It contradicts the Kent police report on the investigation, which "positively commended the initial response and the early actions taken at the scene in the first hours after the murder."

Senior officers

IN CHAPTERS 12 to 15, Sir William analyses the roles of senior investigating officers in the inquiry.

The criticism is savage. Officers in the original inquiry are also dealt with in individual chapters detailing their failings in the case.

The first senior investigating officer, Detective Supt Ian Crampton, is accused of making a "fundamental error" in his failure to ensure the arrest of suspects in the early stages of the investigation. The report states: "Considerable time elapsed before they were taken into custody and before the unsatisfactory searches of their premises did eventually take place."

It adds: "There was no wall of silence. A vital and fundamental mistake was made in failing to arrest the suspects the information [given] by the morning of 26 April."

Mr Crampton's "flawed" strategic decision not to arrest was fundamental. "Its consequences are plain to see," the report states.

Next to be criticised is Mr Crampton's number two, Detective Superintendent Brian Weeden, who is said to have failed both Stephen's parents and the family solicitor in the way he handled the investigation.

The report says that he "lost patience" with the Lawrences and solicitor Imran Khan and he is also held partly responsible for the undermining of the evidence of the key witness Duwayne Brooks.

Det Insp Ben Bullock, the only officer from the investigation who is facing internal disciplinary proceedings, is accused of failing "to process properly vital information" given to the team by witness James Grant. The report says of Bullock "he was passive, and not up to his job".

Det Chief Supt William Ilsley is blamed for "allowing himself to go along with" the "weak and unenterprising" decisions of his superiors. The report adds: "He failed to supervise and to manage effectively this highly sensitive murder investigation".

Det Sergeant John Davidson is accused by the report of "unwitting racism" and criticised for his dogged refusal to accept that the motive for Stephen Lawrence's murder was racist.

The Met police commissioner is not directly criticised in the report although Sir William makes a pointed reference to the need for senior officers to face up to the institutional racism in the police, something which Sir Paul would not acknowledge in his evidence.


IN CHAPTER 21, Sir William covers the use of identification parades, which he criticises for being "lax", and the failure to act on witness evidence that one of the attackers was "fair-haired".

The report states: "No line of inquiry was established to pursue the possible identification of the fair-haired or blond offender. There was no co-ordination or analysis of the various descriptions given. The fact that one of the attackers was fair-haired should have been reflected in decisions made as to the elimination of suspects. The failure to deal logically with this line of inquiry must be another source of criticism of the SIO and his deputy."


IN Chapters 19 and 20 deal with the police handling of witnesses and the elimination of other suspects.

Sir William expresses disapproval of the failure of officers to recognise the murder as racist, despite witness information suggesting that it was.

He writes: "If officers expressed the view that they did not believe that the case was purely motivated by racism, when it so clearly was, then the perception of the black community in particular, and of all who heard the evidence at this Inquiry is inevitably that such an unjustifiable stance reflects inherent racism in the officers involved and in the police service. DS Davidson and others have only themselves to blame for the perception that they were indeed "institutionally racist". This perception is justified in the sense that these officers approached the investigation in the wrong way and encouraged each other in their wrongful belief as to the motivation for the crime."

Chapter 20 records an incident involving a red Astra car which was seen by police near the murder scene shortly after Stephen died. The report notes that the five white youths inside "appeared to be laughing".

Despite radio calls by one officer, PC Hodges, the car was not stopped or followed.

The car was eventually traced but Sir William said it was "an example of the investigation team to take necessary action."

ID parades

IN CHAPTER 21, Sir William covers the use of identification parades, which he criticises for being "lax", and the failure to act on witness evidence that one of the attackers was "fair-haired".

The report states: "No line of inquiry was established to pursue the possible identification of the fair-haired or blond offender. There was no co-ordination or analysis of the various descriptions given. The fact that one of the attackers was fair-haired should have been reflected in decisions made as to the elimination of suspects. The failure to deal logically with this line of inquiry must be another source of criticism of the SIO and his deputy."

DS Crowley

IN CHAPTER 22, the report details the relationship between Detective Sgt Christopher Crowley and witness Duwayne Brooks.

DS Crowley's assertion that Brooks had voiced doubt over his ability to identify Stephen's attackers contributed to the undermining of the admissability of his evidence. Brooks denied the conversation had taken place.

Sir William concludes that despite suggestions made in cross-examination that Mr Crowley was not telling the truth "we believe that DS Crowley's evidence was substantially correct...he was tested in the firmest possible way in cross-examination ."

Arrest of suspects

CHAPTERS 23 to 25 deal with the arrests of the suspects and the collection of exhibits and scientific evidence.

It notes that during the raid on the Acourts home "a knife was found behind a TV set. In the padlocked bedroom a Gurkha type knife was found. There was a shoulder holster in a cupboard. There were knives in Jamie Acourt's bedroom and an air gun type revolver."

Officers are criticised for their failure to retain as an exhibit a piece of "apparently blood-stained" tissue found by an officer during a search.

Parents' treatment

In chapter 26, Sir William returns to the subject of the patronising treatment of the Lawrence parents.

Their treatment prompts Sir William to call for a radical overhaul of the way police liaise with the families of victims of race attacks and the way they handle witnesses in such crimes.

Sir William writes: "Plainly Mr and Mrs Lawrence were not dealt with or treated as they should have been. Their reaction and their attitude after their son's murder were those of a grieving family. The fact that they were in their eyes and to their perception patronised and inappropriately treated exhibits plain but unintentional failure to treat them appropriately and professionally within their own culture and as a black grieving family.

"DS Bevan and DC Holden will for ever deny that they are racist or that the colour, culture or ethnic origin of the Lawrence family played any part in the failure of family liaison. We are bound to say that the conclusion which we reach is inescapable.

"Inappropriate behaviour and patronising attitudes towards this black family were the product and a manifestation of unwitting racism at work."

Sir William identifies an "atmosphere of mistrust" between the police, the family and their lawyers.

Supt William Ilsley

Chapter 27 looks at the role of Detective Chief Supt William Ilsley, one of the senior officers on the investigation and the Crime Manager for the Area where the murder took place.

The report critices DCS Ilsley for allowing "himself to go along with the weak and unenterprising decisions made by Mr Crampton and Mr Weeden in the very early days, so that the opportunities which an early arrest might have produced were missed."

It states: "There was in our opinion failure to supervise and to manage effectively and imaginatively the highly sensitive murder investigation to the degree required by Mr Ilsley's position as Crime Manager for the Area."

ays was subject to a shocking lack of control.

It states: "No wonder Mr and Mrs Lawrence and the community perceive, with justification, that the management of the case was deficient. DS Flook's attitude to Mr and Mrs Lawrence and to their solicitor...must result in the conclusion that racist prejudice, stereotyping and insensitivity played its part in the lack of bite and energy devoted to the activities of the Incident Room. Unwitting racism was at work."

Sir William's comments on the failings in carrying out suitable surveillance of the suspects are even more damning.

He states that the "full-team" surveillance on the Acourts home at 102 Bournbrook Road, was limited to less than two hours.

When Jamie Acourt was seen leaving the house with a black binliner, the police photographer was on his own and unable to follow.

"There was no means of following him because there was no communication and because the surveillance team was not on parade by that time. This shows a gross lack of planning and indeed of common sense," says Sir William.

He adds: "It appears that no other surveillance of any kind was ever mooted or carried out. So that the operation was limited and poorly planned and executed. The whole history of this surveillance reveals inefficiency and incompetence."

Sir William takes a dim view of other police surveillance activities which were deemed more important at the time.

He said: "The use of the surveillance team to observe a young black man suspected of theft in apparent priority to surveillance of the Stephen Lawrence suspects is remarkable. No explanation of this `priority' has ever been given."

The Barker Review

Chapter 28 covers the controversial Barker Review, which was the Metropolitan Police's own inquiry into the Lawrence investigation.

The report criticises the author Detective Chief Supt John Barker for deliberately not reaching conclusions which might "undermine the confidence of the [investigating} team".

He also took what Sir William describes as the "clear and unforgiveable" step of considering writing two versions of his review, one honest and one which omitted "any adverse references to the investigation". The latter would have been provided to the defence solicitors.

Sir William is fiercely critical of the final review.

He writes: "Mr Barker did plainly in our opinion pull his punches and he produced a report which simply gives no proper overview of the early days of the investigation and which contains no criticism, although there was much to be criticised."

Sir William is also critical of senior Met officers who were prepared to accept the veracity of the review.

He said: "At the very least the paucity of information offered reflects a continuing lack of open and meaningful communication with the Lawrence family and their representatives. There is a lack of rigour in the reception of the review document first and foremost by Mr Osland but also by those above him including the Commissioner himself."

He adds: "Our overall conclusion is that Mr Barker's review must be condemned. We do not find evidence that its inadequacies were the result of corruption or collusion. Mr Barker's unquestioning acceptance and repetition of the criticisms of the Lawrence family and their solicitor are to be deplored. Others took the review "as it was set out" in the Commissioner's words, and all allowed themselves to be misled."

Senior officers

Chapters 29 to 32, deal individually with the roles of other senior officers in the case.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner David Osland is criticised for his poor relationship with the Lawrence family and his acceptance of the flawed Barker review.

The report states: "[Osland] had faults in connection with the Stephen Lawrence murder investigation and in particular the relationship with the family which were attributable to his readiness to accept accept without qualification or inquiry that which was told to him by his own officers and by Mr Barker in connection with the unfortunate and flawed review. A more critical examination of that review wouold have revelaed its failure."

Assistant Commissioner Ian Johnston is criticised for a statement which he made to the Lawrence parents, which gave an unreasonably favourable description of the police investigation into their son's murder.

The report said: "Mr Johnston should not have allowed that statement to include palpably inaccurate statements about the first investigation. Also racist crimes do have their special features and do have to be specially addressed."

Second inquiry

Chapters 33 to 35 cover the Second Metropolitan Police investigation into Stephen's murder. New officers drafted in to work on the case are praised by the report for their acknowledgement that it was a racist murder.

Commander Perry Nove, now the Commissioner of the City of London Police, is singled out for his creditable role in the later end of the inquiry.

The report states: "He did his salvage the sorry situation which met him in May 1994. That he was unable to achieve a successful prosecution was certainly not his fault. By the summer of 1994 the case was, as things turned out, beyond redemption."

London racism

Chapters 35 and 36 deal with racism on a wider scale in south-east London and include evidence from witnesses linked to the Met Police's own Racial Incident Unit at Plumstead police station and local anti-racist groups.

Canteen culture

Chapter 37, is the evidence of Police Sgt Peter Solley, the Community Divisional Liaison Officer for the Plumstead Police Division, where the murder took place.

The report notes: "PSgt Solley accepted that there was a `canteen culture' of racism within the MPS but he indicated that it is his belief that things were changing considerably from the situation of the 70s and 80s. PSgt Solley appreciated that the perception within the black community was that the culture still rules."

Sainsbury's row

Chapter 38, praises the actions of PC Alan Fisher who was called to an incident in Sainsbury's car park at Woolwich, south London, on 30 April 1993, when Mrs Lawrence was involved in a dispute with some white women in which she was racially abused and threatened with a brick.

PC Fisher's approach to the crime is described as "positive steps in the right direction".

CPS role

Chapter 39 addresses the role of the Crown Prosecution Service in deciding whether or not to prosecute the five suspects.

"The decision to discontinue the prosecution was taken on 28 July [1993] by Mr Youngerwood [CPS lawyer] himself, and the decision was communicated to Mr Weeden and Mr Bullock [Met police officers]....."

It goes on to say: "It should be noted that there was never any question in 1993-94 of the other suspects being charged, since in truth there was no evidence against any of them to justify prosecution. None of them had been identified at any parade, and there was no other evidence to establish their involvement in this terrible crime."

It continues: "On 27 July 1993 Mr Mitchell telephoned Mr Medwynter and informed him that having read the committal papers there was not, in his words, 'a cat in hell's chance of a conviction'"

...."It should be observed that Mr Bullock and Detective Constable Freeman composed a strong memorandum which was submitted to the CPS inviting the prosecutors to reconsider the case in relation to the Witham brothers and seeking its reinstatement.

"As has been pointed out this action by Mr Bullock is inconsistent with any suggestion that he was 'going soft' on David Norris.

"It should be added that we ourselves have some concern about the CPS decision not to revive the Witham case. There was evidence that David Norris and Jamie Acourt had been involved in violence, and a knife and truncheon had been used. It does appear to us that the weight and quality of evidence has first to be assessed by the CPS, and that the judgment of the relevant CPS officer it involved.

"But it must certainly be in the public interest to ensure that prosecutions follow where there has been violence and dangerous weapons have been used, provided that the evidential test is met."

It continues: "The crucial evidence on behalf of the CPS was in fact given by Mr Youngerwood, since he was the man who had to make the relevant decisions. He had many years of experience as a solicitor both with the MPS, with whom he worked for 16 years, and in the CPS in its various existences. When he gave evidence he was retired, but he had been involved throughout with the Stephen Lawrence murder investigations. He was an impressive witness, and it was plain to the Inquiry that he had been worried and anxious about the case and the decisions he had felt bound to make....."

The report goes on to outline Mr Brooks confusing identification during a parade of suspects.

"We fully understand Mr Youngerwood's reasoning and his decision, and we believe that his conclusion was correct........Mr Youngerwood was criticised by Mr Mansfield [Lawrence family lawyer] on the basis that he was taking over the role of the Judge and jury, and that he ought to have allowed the case to proceed. We do not agree with this criticism. Mr Youngerwood was a highly experienced and responsible solicitor, and it was his duty to reach a decision bearing in mind all relevant seems to us that he reached careful and reasoned conclusions...."

The report continues: "The way in which the discontinuance was brought to the notice of Mr and Mrs Lawrence was most regrettable.....[they] heard through the media."

"The reason given is that the decision was made only at the eleven hour.....this is in our opinion on true excuse, since there must have been channels available in order to ensure that the family were found and told...."


Chapter 40 concerns the main committal hearing against four of the suspects at Belmarsh Magistrates' Court in which the magistrate considered whether there was sufficient evidence to commit them to trial..

"Mr Mansfield was himself plainly doubtful about Witness B [a key witness] and his evidence.

"In his evidence Witness B had repeatedly said that he knew David Norris, and had known him for some years.....the prosecution decided that it would be wise to hold an identification parade in order to test Witness B's evidence...

"Witness B surveyed the parade - and probably to the consternation of the prosecution he failed to pick out David Norris, but picked out a member of the public as being the David Norris who was well known to him and who had been near the scene of the murder."

Mr Mansfield later dropped his request for charges against Jamie Acourt.

Later "....the magistrate gave his ruling.......he found that there was sufficient evidence to put Neil Acourt and Luke Knight on trial for the murder of Stephen Lawrence. David Norris was not committed for trial. Thus both he and Jamie Acourt, if viable evidence is available, can be prosecuted again."

The trial

Chapter 41 relates to The Central Criminal Court Trial.

"The trial of Neil Acourt, Luke Knight and Gary Dobson opened on 17 April 1996 at the Central Criminal Court [the Old Bailey in London]."

Mr Mansfield made a short opening speech and two witnesses gave evidence but could not identify the defendants because they had not seen them clearly.

On the question of Mr Brooks' evidence the report says: "It should be said that Mr Justice Curtis [the judge] was careful to focus on the most basic problem with Mr Brooks' evidence, namely the absolute confusion apparent from his own evidence and form the conflicting descriptions and evidence given by Mr Brooks from time to time."

"In our judgment anybody reading all the evidence put before Mr Justice Curtis could properly reach only one conclusion, namely, that 'where recognition or identification is concerned he simply does not know in ordinary parlance whether he is on his head or his heels'........

"There simply was no satisfactory evidence available. Where this is the position the Courts cannot change the law or the rules out of sympathy or upon suspicion."

The inquest

Chapter 42 covers the full inquest first held before a jury in December 1993.

Mr Mansfield called for an adjournment saying there were "fresh witnesses" and "dramatic" new evidence.

"When the private prosecution went ahead it does not appear that there was new "dramatic" or "specific" evidence available to Mr and Mrs Lawrence's legal team other than that which had become available in the first months of the investigation," notes the report.

The inquest was adjourned to February 1997 during which Mr Brooks gave evidence of the attack. The coroner called the five suspects to the inquest, but the report says: "As it turned out nobody gained anything by calling these witnesses because they simply refused to answer virtually all questions."

The coroner told the jury there was only one available verdict - unlawful killing. "When the jury returned from retirement that was the verdict given. They added the details required and indicated that they wished to say that Stephen Lawrence was killed 'in a completely unprovoked racist attack by five white youths'".

On 13 February 1997 Mrs Lawrence made a formal complaint to the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.

Imran Khan's role

Chapter 43 looks at the role of Imran Khan the solicitor representing the Lawrence family from the very start.

"The presence of a solicitor may well have been unfamiliar to DS Bevan and DC Holden [officers dealing with family liaison] in the circumstances. But the family is perfectly entitled to us a solicitor if they wish, and every step must be taken to fit in with the family's wishes and the family's arrangements."

Mr Khan described later correspondence with the police as "sniper fire". The report notes: "It is unusual that requests should be made in somewhat peremptory fashion and in legal language so early in the investigation of a murder. But it is not for the police to tell a family and their lawyer how to behave."

It says of Mr and Mrs Lawrence: "They were suspicious of the police and they believed that the police were acting with insensitivity, and indeed were harassing young people who were known to Stephen Lawrence by suggesting that he might have been involved in some sort of gang. Furthermore they believe that the questions .....implied that Stephen had been involved in some nefarious activity on the night of his murder."

The police's approach is described as "insensitive" in the report.

It concludes: "It would be wrong to criticise Mr Khan, since he was doing what the family wished him to do and they had confidence in the methods which he was employing." But it adds: "Mr Khan was ready to criticise and to contact the media more than might be expected."

It concludes: "The result of the unsuccessful prosecution was that the three men who were acquitted can never be tired again....

"There is no doubt but that Mr Khan has supported Mr and Mrs Lawrence with determination and with vigour. Both he and they have been proved right as to many of the criticisms of the failure of the police investigation. It is a bitter disappointment to all that nobody has been successfully prosecuted for this terrible murder."

Role of PCA

Chapter 44 covers The Police Complaints Authority.

Following the complaint by Mrs Lawrence a team of Kent officers carried out a nine month investigation.

The report agrees with inquiry's criticism of decisions made by senior officers, the family liaison, and the first investigation. But adds: "We do not agree with the Kent/PCA conclusion as to the actions taken or not taken during the first night, the initial response tothe MPS at the scene.

"As to racism we must indicate that in our view the approach of the PCA/Kent investigation was incomplete. Many officers were asked directly whether racism had an impact upon their activities in the case. Predictably they replied in strong terms denying such impact........we cannot accept the conclusion that there was 'no evidence to support the allegations of racist conduct'. No over racism, other than perhaps the use of inappropriate language, was evident. But the conclusion that there was a "collective failure' to provide an appropriate and professional service to the Lawrence family because of their colour, culture and ethnic origin is in our view inescapable."

It list two other concerns, firstly that the five officers who could have faced disciplinary charges had reached retirement age and therefore could escape any potential punishment. It also questions "the perception is that such investigations of police by police may not be seen to result in independent and fair scrutiny and that justice is not seen to be done by such investigation."

Part two

Chapter 45 is about Part Two of the Inquiry.

Public hearings were held in Ealing/Southall, Manchester, Tower Hamlets, Bradford, Bristol and Birmingham.

"Wherever we went we were met with inescapable evidence which highlighted the lack of trust which exists between the police and the minority ethnic communities.

"At every location there was a striking difference between the positive descriptions of policy initiatives by senior police officers, and the negative expressions fo the minority communities, who clearly felt themselves to be discriminated against by the police and others."

On stop and search figures it says: "The majority of police officers who testified before us accepted that an element of the disparity was the result of discrimination."

On racist incidents is says: "The consistent message given to us was that the police and other agencies did not or would not realise the impact of less serious, non crime incidents upon the minority ethnic communities."

"There was a weight of opinion and concern in relation to two specific aspects of education. First the failure of the National Curriculum to reflect adequately the needs of a diverse multi cultural and multi ethnic society. Secondly the number of exclusions from schools which were apparently disproportionate to the ethnic mix of the pupils.

"There is little confidence amongst minority ethnic communities inthe present [complaints] system."

Overall they conclude: "The message is uncompromising. A new atmosphere of mutual confidence and trust must be created. The onus to being the process whichwill create that new atmosphere lies firmly and clearly with the police."

But is adds: "blanket condemnation of the police service is both unfair and unproductive."


Chapter 46, contains Sir William's conclusions and summary.

He notes: "There is no doubt but that there were fundamental [police] errors. The investigation was marred by a combination of professional incompetence, institutional racism and a failure of leadership by senior officers. A failed [Met police] review failed to expose these inadequacies. The second investigation could not salvage the faults of the first investigation."

Sir William highlights the failings in First Aid, saying: "no police officer did anything by way of first aid, apart from the small amount of testing to see whether Stephen Lawrence was still breathing and whether his pulse was beating."

The initial police response, Sir William said, was shocking. He writes: "We were astonished at the lack of direction and organisation during the vital first hours after the murder...lack of imagination and properly co-ordinated action and planning which might have led to the discovery and arrest of suspects was conspicuous by its absence."

Family liaison, Sir William said was deplorable. "From the first contact with police officers at the hospital, and thereafter, Mr and Mrs Lawrence were treated with insensitivity and lack of sympathy...Mr and Mrs Lawrence were not dealt with or treated as they should have been. They were patronised."

The failure to remove from the scene south London criminal and father of one of the suspects, Clifford Norris, was "unexplained and incomprehensible".

The Surveillance Operation was "ill-planned, badly carried out and inadequately documented".

The Incident Room was "inadequately staffed".

There were "clear breaches of the Codes of Practice" governing identity parades.

Sir William is scathing of searches carried out at the homes of suspects. "Information expressly suggested that knives might be concealed under floorboards. There is no evidence that a single floorboard was removed during any of the searches."

Officers at the scene of the murder showed "insensitive and racist stereotypical behaviour", assuming that there had been a fight. Some police were patronising in their dealings with the family, others used "inappropriate and offensive language". At least five officers involved in the investigation "simply refused to accept that this was purely a racist murder".

The report notes: "Racism awareness training was almost non-existent at every level."

The Barker Review is condemned. "There can be no excuses for such a series of errors, failures, and lack of direction and control. Each failure was compounded. Failure to acknowledge and to detect errors resulted in them being effectively concealed. Only now at this Inquiry have they been laid bare."

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in