Socialist Worker

Stephen Lawrence: Socialist Worker reports from the 1998 Macpherson Inquiry

We reproduce some archive Socialist Worker articles from the 1998 Macpherson Inquiry which probed the police's failure to solve Stephen's murder

Issue No. 2284

Socialist Worker

Socialist Worker's cartoonist Tim sums up the inquiry in 1998 (Pic: Tim Sanders)


Socialist Worker was one of the first newspapers to highlight the Stephen Lawrence case. We have been part of the campaign for justice for 19 years and have helped expose how police racism and corruption let the killers walk free for so long.


Socialist Worker, 21 March 1998

Lawrence family in challenge to role of inquiry judge. New battle for truth

A huge row broke out on the first day of the public inquiry into the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence.

Stephen’s family forced Judge Sir William Macpherson to adjourn the inquiry just 15 minutes after it opened on Monday.

They were disturbed by reports about Macpherson in last week’s Observer.

The article carried a statement from Stephen’s father, Neville, saying he was dismayed that “the chairman of the inquiry into the death of our son has in the past shown insensitivity in issues regarding race.”

Neville was referring to Macpherson’s record, which includes “one of the worst records for refusing leave to judicial review in immigration cases”.

It also shows Macpherson has not shouted loud about miscarriages of justice. After the Guildford Four were acquitted he said, “The public should not wish to gaze at the entrails of this case further.”


History of cover ups

Institutionalised racism is endemic in our criminal justice system.

It ranges from the behaviour of the police towards black people, to the racism and class bias of the judiciary itself.

No police officer has been charged over the relentless rise in the number of deaths of black men in custody.

Even the high court criticised the Director of Public Prosecutions last year for refusing to prosecute officers involved in a number of cases of deaths in custody and police brutality.

One of the cases was that of Nigerian Shiji Lapite who died a violent death in custody after being arrested by Stoke Newington police.

Another was that of Irishman Richard O’Brien who died after being held face down when he was arrested in south London.

Just a few weeks ago Manchester Police paid out £130,000 in an out of court settlement to law student Amer Rafiq, who lost an eye after he was thrown into the back of a police van two years ago.

No officer has been charged.

Every time there is a death in custody or police wrongdoing the authorities cover it up.

High flying lawyers paid out of the public purse represent the police at inquests.

Politicians are more likely to back police than take them to task.

An inquest jury said east Londoner Ibrahima Sey had been “unlawfully killed” after they heard that the police had sprayed him at close range with CS spray while he was handcuffed.

Yet home secretary Jack Straw did not move against the police. Instead he allowed every police force in the country to use CS spray.


A diary of shame

The criminal justice system has failed the Lawrence family.

  • At the time of Stephen’s murder in April 1993 the police seemed more interested in investigating Stephen than his murderers.

    They were given a steady stream of leads but did not make any arrests until three weeks after the murder—by which time vital evidence was lost.

  • The Crown Prosecution Service then mucked up the prosecution of two of the suspects. The family was forced to launch a private investigation which collapsed in 1996.
  • Five white racists named in the Daily Mail last year as Stephen’s murderers refused to give evidence to an inquest which found Stephen had been “unlawfully killed”.
  • Last week the Police Complaints Authority recommended that a senior detective who served on Stephen’s case should face a disciplinary charge of neglect of duty.

However, there will be no prosecution. The PCA admits it would have recommended charges against other officers involved but they have all since retired.


Socialist Worker, 4 April 1998

Lawrence inquiry exposes police

“I did not trust the police, never have done and I still do not trust the police.”

Those are the words of Doreen Lawrence testifying last week at the public inquiry into her son’s racist murder in Eltham, south east London.

Day after day shocking revelations about the police surface at the inquiry.

On Friday of last week the inquiry was halted after the police legal team objected to officers being accused of lying by the family’s representatives.

The Metropolitan Police have a lot to hide.

The police have always insisted that they were hampered by a “wall of silence”, with people too racist or too scared to name Stephen’s killers.

But the inquiry has heard that after Stephen was stabbed a flood of information came the police’s way.

The names of the gang that has been accused of Stephen’s murder—the Acourt brothers and Norris, Dobson and Knight—came up time and again.

  • The day after the murder an informant told the police the Acourt brothers and Norris had killed Stephen Lawrence. He also said Norris had previously stabbed someone else.
  • That same day an anonymous tip off also named the gang.
  • An anonymous letter left in a phone box accused the gang of the murder. A similar letter was left on a police car windscreen.
  • A few days after the murder the Acourts were seen leaving their house with bin bags “with what might have been clothing”. Nothing was done.

By the time the police got round to arresting the suspects, vital evidence had gone.

The inquiry also heard how there was a big question mark over the way in which the police arrived on the scene dealt with Stephen.

The officers saw Stephen was bleeding heavily but neither of them tried to stem the flow or find out where the wound was.


Socialist Worker, 18 April 1998

Stephen Lawrence inquiry already shows… How the killers got away with murder

The first stage of the public inquiry into the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence concluded before Easter. The inquiry resumes next week. Already it has exposed evidence of how the police allowed Stephen’s killers to get away with murder.

“The people involved in last night’s stabbings were: Neil Acourt, David Norris, Jamie Acourt, Gary Dobson.

“One of these names stabbed that poor lad. These bastards were definitely involved and must be stopped because they keep getting away with it.

“Approach these shits with care. Do us all a favour and prove it. Good luck.”

This tip off was given to the police hours after black teenager Stephen Lawrence was stabbed to death in Well Hall Road in Eltham, south east London, on 22 April 1993.

Yet the racist killers are still free.

At the inquiry Stephen’s mother, Doreen, sits almost motionless witnessing the scandal unfold. His father, Neville, gets up periodically and walks out when the evidence and the attitude of the police get too much.

The legal team representing the Lawrence family is having to battle to extract the truth from police officers who take the stand.

The police come across as arrogant and unwilling.

Day after day a horrifying picture is emerging about the extent of violent racist activity in south east London at the time of the murder.


Police ignored vital evidence

Stephen was not the first black man to be targeted by racists.

In February 1991, 15 year old Rolan Adams was murdered by racists who shouted, “Get the kaffirs. Get the niggers.” He died after being knifed in the throat.

At the time the police said the incident was about “petty crime”.

In July 1992, 16 year old Rohit Duggal was leaving a kebab shop near where Stephen Lawrence was later murdered. A group of white youths stabbed him in the heart and he bled to death on the pavement.

The police said it was a “motiveless murder”. Yet Nazis appeared at his memorial service shouting, “Two-nil.”

Then in April 1993, 18 year old Stephen Lawrence and his friend Duwayne Brooks were waiting at a bus stop in Well Hall Road.

Six white youths spotted them and ran across the road. “What, what, nigger?” was the only thing they uttered to Stephen before one of them stabbed him with a huge blade.

Duwayne described to the police at the time how he “knew they were coming for us and I shouted, ‘Steve, run’. I ran but then I turned back to see if Stephen was running.

“I saw the same youth who was in front of Stephen strike him down with one of his arms.”

Stephen, in a herculean effort to catch up with his mate, ran some distance before collapsing.

His attackers ran off down a nearby road. Four out of the five killers lived in streets just off Well Hall Road.

The killers spent the night moving from one house to another, getting rid of incriminating evidence—knives and bloodstained clothes.

Neville Lawrence told the inquiry that a woman came to his house soon after and informed the family that “there had been people in her house on the night of the murder who had washed blood off themselves”. She named the killers.

The police could have acted quickly to nail the murderers. They didn’t.

As Stephen lay dying the first officers to arrive did not even take the first aid box out of the car.

None of the police at the scene turned Stephen over to try and find out where the blood was seeping from.

None tried to stem the flow despite it being part of standard first aid procedure.

A police first aid expert told the inquiry, “If the person is bleeding, obviously the first thing to do to control that bleeding is by placing [a] hand over that wound and applying pressure.”

The comforting of the young man who lay dying was left to passers-by, the Taffes, who stroked Stephen’s head and whispered, “You are loved. You are loved.”

The inquiry has also heard how Stephen’s friend Duwayne Brooks was described by a number of police as being “awkward”, “agitated”, “uncontrollable”, “surly”, “un-cooperative” and “anti-police”.

In fact, despite being utterly distraught, Duwayne gave a lot of vital information to the police that night. He gave the direction of the killers’ escape and a detailed description of them.

Yet the police did not immediately act as though they were faced with a racist attack.

They did not stop a red Vauxhall Astra car which drove by filled with white youths laughing and pointing, seeming to find it “humourous”.

The car turned round and came back for another look. The police saw it again. It drove off.

Would the police have allowed that to happen if it was a police officer lying on the pavement and the car had been full of black youths?

A week later the Astra was stopped by Police Sergeant Clement (who had been at the murder scene on the night Stephen Lawrence was killed) when he accidentally spotted it.

Clement passed the names of the car’s occupants to the investigation team. He heard nothing more about them until he was told their full identity at the inquiry.

The person driving the car was Daniel Copley. Copley had been part of the gang that attacked Rolan Adams and had been convicted for his part in it.

Sitting next to him was Kieran Highland, “a leading light in the NTOs, the Nazi Turn Outs, a racist organisation in the Eltham area”.

Another in the Astra on the night Stephen was murdered was Jason Goatley, also convicted for his part in the attack on Rolan Adams.

Within minutes of Stephen’s murder these scum were driving past the scene. The police admit it was “the best lead they had that night”.

Yet it was not followed up.

In the hours after the murder the tip offs began to flood in, up to 11 naming the killers.

Detective Inspector Jeynes, who retired last year, admitted to the inquiry last Wednesday that there was enough information to arrest the gang in the days after the murder.

Jeynes was a senior investigating officer on the night.

  • The Acourts and Norris had stabbed someone a few weeks before. This was known to the police.
  • The Acourts, Norris and Dobson had also, a few weeks earlier, carried out the racist “Wimpy bar stabbing” of Gurdeep Bhangal.
  • The Acourts had stabbed a boy called Lee a year before in nearby Woolwich.
  • People in the area said that the gang loved using knives and cleaned them in the front room of the house in full view of passers-by.
  • They were told that a man called Thompson, who had just been convicted of the murder of Rohit Duggal, was “part of the Acourts’ gang”.

In the months running up to Stephen’s murder serious charges against Jamie Acourt and Norris had been dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service.

Local people quickly started to give information to the Lawrences, who were mystified as to why the gang had not been arrested.

Four days after the murder a police civilian photographer saw a man leaving the Acourt household with “what might have been clothing in a bin bag”. The next day Neil Acourt was seen doing the same thing.

No one knows what was in those bags—it was never followed up.


What we think: Stephen Lawrence’s murder was not an isolated incident.

Racist violence had spiralled in the area after the Nazi British National Party was allowed to open its headquarters in nearby Welling in 1989.

Nazi inspired gangs of white youths were allowed to spread terror through the Eltham area over a three year period.

Emboldened and inspired by the BNP, if not connected to them, these youths, armed with machetes and knives, went round hunting down black people.

By and large they got away with it, seemingly living a charmed existence.

Everyone knew who they were but the police never swooped.

The racists grew bolder as a result. They boasted openly of their vile exploits.

Local people and some of their victims, convinced the racists were immune, were too terrified to come forward.

At the time of Stephen’s murder police claimed they had been met by “a wall of silence” in the area.

Yet within hours of Stephen’s death there was a flood of information telling the police who killed him and where they lived.

Police officers have told the inquiry they were not at fault.

They say they are not racist, nor is the police force. Yet they have, as yet, advanced no other credible explanation for why Stephen’s killers were allowed to get away with murder.

The inquiry is revealing that the police are riddled with racism, at both an individual and institutional level.

Courage

Anti-Nazis protested against the BNP when Rohit Duggal, Rolan Adams and Stephen Lawrence were murdered.

Yet while the racist attacks in the area went on, the police vilified anti-Nazis as troublemakers.

In October 1993 the police campaign against anti-Nazis reached its peak when 60,000 anti-BNP marchers were ambushed by the Metropolitan Police.

The police subsequently spent millions of pounds tracking down anti-Nazi protesters, charging them with riot, eventually jailing nine people for a total of 20 years and six months.

The contrast between the police response to the Lawrence murder and their response to the murder of PC Blakelock during the Broadwater Farm riot of 1985 is clear.

The police swamped the north London Broadwater Farm estate. They searched dozens of flats, arresting people and taking away the whole contents of flats for forensic examination.

They were so desperate that they framed three innocent men.

In the Lawrence case police KNEW who had killed Stephen. Yet the Crown Prosecution Service dropped the charges. The Lawrences’ private prosecution was quashed.

The truth is now beginning to come out, thanks to Neville and Doreen Lawrence’s courage and determination to fight for justice.


Socialist Worker, 2 May 1998

How racists got away: police outburst reveals cover up

“This was not racism.”

That was the incredible judgement of one of the key police officers who investigated the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence.

On Monday this week Detective Sergeant John Davidson, who retired last month, rocked the public inquiry into the circumstances surrounding Stephen’s death.

Davidson’s denial of a racist motive for Stephen’s murder beggars belief.

Stephen’s killers were members of a notorious racist gang that had been involved in the murder of two other young black men in south east London.

The only words that the killers uttered before one plunged the blade into Stephen were, “What, what, nigger.”

Yet Davidson’s outburst is typical of the way the police handled their investigation into Stephen’s murder.

  • They refused to initially believe it was a racist attack, even faced with the obvious.
  • They ignored the tip offs that flooded into the crime room all naming Gary Dobson, David Norris, Luke Knight and Neil and Jamie Acourt as the killers.
  • They sat on evidence that could have led to a quick arrest, instead waiting two weeks, by which time vital evidence had been hidden or destroyed.
  • A police surveillance officer failed to report the killers getting rid of bin bags of clothes, because there was only ONE mobile phone between the whole team. Are these the actions of police doing their best to catch the culprits?

Ever since Stephen’s murder in April 1993 the police have been conducting a cover up.

Metropolitan Police commissioner Condon had the cheek to complain that the family’s lawyers were too “confrontational” and that they were in danger of “damaging the relationship between the police and the black community”.

The truth is that the police force is racist.

If any more proof is needed then take a look at the appalling story that came out last week about Cardiff police.

Two black men, Marcus Walters and Francisco Borg, suffered a horrific attack by skinheads in Cardiff last August.

Marcus and Francisco tell how, instead of going to their aid, the police sat in their car and watched the attack. They then got out and sprayed the two black men with CS spray and arrested them.

The police were helped in their arrest by one of the skinheads, who were allowed to walk away!

The police then charged Marcus and Francisco with violent disorder.

The two men were “lucky” that the police’s despicable behaviour was caught on CCTV, that they were not convicted and the truth has come out.

Millions of people, black and white, who have been following the Lawrence inquiry and police brutality typified by the Cardiff case, are beginning to realise just how racist the police are.

They are defenders of a rotten system that uses racism to try and divide black and white.


Socialist Worker, 9 May 1998

It’s time to sack top police chief

“The fact that the killers shouted racist abuse does not prove the killing was racially motivated.”

This astonishing statement comes from the head of the police investigating team at the inquiry into the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence.

The police certainly have a lot to cover up, but they are not doing a very good job so far.

Last week it was revealed that a witness to Stephen’s murder in 1993 was only approached last month to do an “E-fit” picture of the killers.

Roy Westbrook also told the inquiry that, although he was asked at the time to attend identity parades, he left one after being forced to wait at the police station for nine hours.

Detective Constable Bevan also told the inquiry last week that none of the police investigating Stephen’s murder believed it was racist. He himself thought it was “motiveless”.

Bevan, who was in charge of liaison with the family, said that he had never “communicated very well” with the family, that people comforting the family were “hangers on” and that he was upset because Doreen Lawrence never smiled at him.

When is home secretary Jack Straw going to step in and have the guilty police officers prosecuted for failing to catch Stephen’s killers?

And why is Metropolitan Police commissioner Paul Condon being allowed to get away with accusing the Lawrences’ legal team of “damaging relations between the police and the black community.”

When Grampian police were found to have utterly failed in a murder inquiry Labour politicians loudly demanded that Grampian chief Dr Ian Oliver should resign immediately.

But Grampian police’s conduct pales in comparison to the Metropolitan Police’s failure to catch Stephen’s killers. So why isn’t home secretary Jack Straw calling for Condon to go?


Socialist Worker, 23 May 1998

Stephen Lawrence’s friend says: ‘POLICE TREATED US LIKE CRIMINALS’

Stephen Lawrence’s friend Duwayne Brooks told the inquiry how, on the evening of 22 April 1993, “we were attacked by a group of white boys, one of whom shouted, ‘What, what, nigger?’ and then stabbed Stephen with a huge blade.

“As we were running from the attack, Steve fell to the floor. I went back and I bent down and looked at him. He was still breathing. I saw the blood running down the floor. I saw his blood running away.”

Duwayne’s evidence came last week at the inquiry into the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence five years ago in south east London.

After the stabbing Duwayne called an ambulance but it was the police who arrived first. He told how a woman police officer said to him, “ ‘So how did it start? Did they chase you for nothing?’ She and the other officers kept asking me what happened and if I was sure of what I was saying. She asked me if I had any weapons on me. She was treating me like she was suspicious of me, not like she wanted to help.”

“I wanted them to get him [Stephen] to hospital,” Duwayne told the inquiry. But the police “were talking rubbish in my ears and walking up and down doing nothing.

“I knew the nearest hospital was only two minutes up the road. I asked an officer why couldn’t they drive Stephen to hospital? They said they couldn’t do that. They never gave a reason.

“I got the impression that the police were repulsed by the blood that was there, or on the whole they just didn’t want to help. They should have known what to do. However horrible they found the blood it was their job to do something to help him.”

“I note that PC Gleason,” said Duwayne, “says I was ‘virtually uncontrollable’. What did they need to control me for? They should have taken control of the situation and organised help for Steve.”

The police wouldn’t let Duwayne travel in the ambulance. “I really wanted to be in the ambulance with Steve. I wanted to be with him.

“At the hospital nobody enquired if I was alright or if I had been attacked. I was offered no comfort.”

Instead a policeman put Duwayne in a police car in the hospital car park on his own “for half an hour or an hour”.

Duwayne was then taken to Plumstead police station to make a statement. “They kept asking, ‘Are you sure they said what, what nigger?’

“I remember someone, maybe a senior police officer, saying, ‘You know what this means if you are telling the truth. Are you sure they said what, what, nigger? You mean you have done nothing to provoke this in any way?’”

Duwayne’s mother arrived. “I told my mum what had happened. She said, ‘It’s a racist murder.’ An officer told her to calm down. He said, ‘We don’t know that yet’.”

Duwayne says that in the days and weeks that followed no officer “asked me if I had been attacked or offered me counselling.”

Duwayne was in danger yet at this stage he had no police protection. “Some time soon after the murder I heard that fascists had been looking for me at my school.

“I was frightened that the murderers would get me and I was frightened of the police. It was unbelievable that they had not arrested anyone.”

It was Duwayne who ended up being arrested!

“On 8 May 1993 I went to a large anti-racist demonstration outside the Nazi BNP HQ in Welling. I went to protest against Steve’s murder and the way the police were handling it.

“In October 1993 I was arrested and charged with offences arising out of the demonstration.

“They waited until after the Crown Prosecution Service had decided to drop the prosecution against the killers.

“It was devastating. I had no convictions at the time of the murder. It felt like the police and prosecutors decided to get at me to ruin my reputation—and a chance of any future prosecution of the murderers.”

A judge later threw out the charges against Duwayne as “an abuse of process”.

During the private prosecution the Lawrences launched, Duwayne was given police protection.

“I stayed at four different hotels. On one occasion an officer who had arrested me on the demonstration was there. On another night I was taken to an Eltham hotel. It was the worst area in London they could have chosen. It felt like they took me to Eltham to break my spirit.”

Duwayne says, “It was hard when the police treated me like they didn’t believe me.” He says one police officer “kept saying to me, ‘What are you hiding?’”

The officer told Duwayne that “officers above him didn’t believe me that it was purely a racist attack.”

Duwayne’s evidence shows up the police service and the system they uphold as rotten to the core.

Every anti-racist, trade unionist, student and socialist should be raising the murder of Stephen Lawrence and the police cover up.

We must make sure that Stephen did not have his life snatched from him in vain. The fight against racism and the capitalist system that spawns it are one and the same struggle.


Socialist Worker, 6 June 1998

Family outraged by ignorant top cop

Every day the Stephen Lawrence inquiry uncovers a scandal of immense proportions.

Why are Stephen’s killers still free? Either the police are incompetent, riddled with racism and corruption, or a mix of all three.

The detective who led the investigation into Stephen’s racist murder admitted last week that he wasn’t clear about the law of arrest.

Retired Detective Superintendent Brian Weedon was asked why he had not arrested those suspected of murdering Stephen earlier, considering the flood of tipoffs following Stephen’s murder.

Weedon had previously said there was not enough evidence to arrest.

But at the inquiry he admitted to Mike Mansfield, representing the Lawrence family, that he did not have “reasonable grounds for arrest” on suspicion.

Mansfield asked Weedon, “Do you not find it rather disturbing that it has taken all this time for you to recognise a fairly basic tenet of criminal law?”

Weedon, a police officer for 30 years, replied, “I think it is regrettable.”

Weedon’s officers never stopped the car spotted driving past the murder scene on the night, despite the five jeering white youths inside.

Later on, the driver, Daniel Copley, was questioned and was found to have been part of the racist gang that killed another black teenager, Rolan Adams.

Copley named three out of the five people in the car. But he was never asked the identity of the remaining two. They could well have been two of the murderers.

Weedon told Mansfield he thought it “pretty unlikely if someone has been involved in the murder, they were going to go back ten minutes later.”

Mansfield replied, “Unless, of course, they do not care and they brag about it and they are very happy to see a black person dead. Do you follow?”

Weedon said he thought that “rather fanciful”.

People in the public gallery protested at the behaviour of the police and their legal representatives last week.

They handed in a petition to inquiry chair Sir William Macpherson complaining of the police legal team’s repeated demands that the inquiry be adjourned.

Next week the suspected killers of Stephen are due to give evidence. However, they may try to get a legal ruling to put off having to testify.


Socialist Worker, 13 June 1998

Lawrence inquiry chair says there WAS a cover up by the police

“Indefensible.” That was the damning judgement of Sir William Macpherson, chair of the Stephen Lawrence inquiry, on the official police report into their handling of the case.

Macpherson has so far been keen to deflect much criticism of the police at the inquiry.

But last week he rounded on one of Scotland Yard’s top officers, Detective Chief Superintendent Roderick John Barker—former head of the Flying Squad.

Barker is the man whose official report had exonerated the way police had handled the investigation into the 1993 murder of black south London teenager Stephen Lawrence.

The truth is Barker’s report was a cover up of the police racism which has meant those who killed Stephen are still walking the streets.

After listening to Barker’s evidence last week Sir William Macpherson snapped that his “value as a witness and his credibility in vital matters” had been “much undermined”.

Yet Barker’s report forms the basis of the police’s whole defence of their behaviour in the Lawrence case.

Another top police officer in the case was also exposed at the inquiry this week.

David Osland was the Deputy Assistant Commissioner in south east London at the time of Stephen Lawrence’s death, and was the man “with whom the buck stopped” in the police handling of the case.

Osland is now a Conservative councillor in Croydon, south London. He claims that the Lawrence family “received a sensitive and sympathetic service from the police”.

But his real views on the Lawrence family have been exposed by the coming to light of a 1993 letter to Metropolitan Police chief Paul Condon.

“Our patience is wearing thin with the Lawrence family,” wrote Osland.

His views have not changed much since.

Last December he attacked Neville Lawrence in a local paper over “his allegations of racism” in the police, and concluded that “my advice to the officers concerned would be to consider legal action” against Neville.

It’s time for justice. All the key police involved in the Lawrence case should be in the dock, and home secretary Jack Straw should sack Metropolitan Police chief Paul Condon.

The five white youths suspected of killing Stephen Lawrence are due to appear at the inquiry next week.

The Stephen Lawrence Family Campaign is asking people to come to the inquiry on Monday and Tuesday to show solidarity with the family’s campaign for justice. Tuesday is a special day of solidarity for trade unionists who are asked to attend with banners.


Socialist Worker, 20 June 1998

Stephen’s killers should be on trial

“Questions about who killed Stephen Lawrence and did the suspects kill him are totally irrelevant.”

That was the astounding “defence” of the five youths who murdered Stephen Lawrence argued by their lawyer, Charles Conway, in the high court last week.

Neil and Jamie Acourt, Gary Dobson, Luke Knight and David Norris were due to appear before the Stephen Lawrence inquiry on Monday.

But judge Mr Justice Laws instead allowed them leave to appeal to a judicial review, due to be heard on Thursday of this week.

The guilty men are trying to wriggle out of being questioned. They know they will be exposed as the racist homicidal scum that they are.

At the inquiry on Monday members of the public shook their heads in disbelief as they were shown a film secretly recorded by police in Gary Dobson’s house in December 1994.

The film is shocking. The gang are shown to be obsessed with weapons, carrying kitchen knives when they go out.

Neil Acourt is shown practicing the overarm “bowling action” knife thrust that delivered the fatal stab wound to Stephen.

He is shown shouting, “I reckon every nigger should be chopped up and they should be left with nothing but fucking stumps”, before going on to praise racist politician Enoch Powell.

The gang believe that they are engaged in some kind of genocidal war against black people, who are described as “niggers”, “coons”, “macaroons”, “pakis” and so on.

David Norris is seen describing how he would like to “go down Catford and places like that with two submachine guns.

“I’d take one of them, skin the black cunt alive, torture him, set him alight.

“I’d blow their two legs and arms off and say, ‘Go on, you can swim home now’.”

The gang continuously make sickening remarks, not only against black people but women and gay people as well.

Yet the police allowed them to walk the streets, stabbing one person after another, before they struck Stephen down in April 1993.

They are still free.

As Neville Lawrence told the inquiry last week, “It has cost us so much pain to know that these people could be behind bars doing time for the murder of my son.”


Anger rises at police outrages

The public gallery erupted in anger last Thursday when the lawyer representing Metropolitan Police commissioner Paul Condon started attacking Doreen during cross-examination.

Doreen hit back.

“Am I on trial here? I mean, from the time of my son’s murder I have been treated not as a victim…and for me to be questioned in this way, I do not appreciate it.”

The Lawrences have not received an apology from Condon, who has remained silent since he accused the family’s lawyers of “damaging the relationship between the police and the black community”.

Top police officer David Osland admitted last week that the presence of the Nazi BNP headquarters in south east London contributed to Stephen’s murder.

Osland said, “I was aware of the fact that the BNP were active in the area and that some of the supporters of that party were forming gangs.”

So why did Osland refuse to close down the BNP headquarters—even after Stephen’s murder?

Osland was in overall control of policing the Welling anti-Nazi demo of October 1993. The Met spent £750,000 and deployed 7,000 police who clubbed protesters to the ground.

Yet we have heard that in the first week of the Lawrence investigation the police surveillance team had one mobile phone between them.

The Lawrence family had to pay £10,000 to a forensic scientist out of campaign funds to analyse fibres from Dobson’s jumper that linked him to the murder.

Outrages like this are creating a groundswell of anger around the country.

At a recent 300 strong “Justice for Stephen” public meeting in north London, one person said, “How do we go about putting the state on trial?”


Socialist Worker, 27 June 1998

Black police officer speaks out

“Profoundly disturbing, wholly repugnant and totally lacking in sensitivity.”

That’s how a senior serving black police officer describes the real police attitude to the Stephen Lawrence inquiry.

Detective Inspector David Michael, speaking at an anti-racist conference last week, gave an insight into what the Metropolitan Police really think.

His comments show the Met’s apology to the Lawrence family last week was nothing but a cynical sham.

Michael was speaking “as a serving police officer in the Met for nearly 26 years, as a black detective inspector and a resident of south east London.”

He revealed, “The Met police’s in-house newspaper (The Job) is reporting the Stephen Lawrence inquiry in a way which represents, without exception, every police officer who has given evidence as a ‘folk hero’.”

Michael is taking the police to an industrial tribunal, saying he himself suffered racial discrimination inside the force.

His revelations underline the racism at the heart of the Met, and give the lie to the police claim that they only wanted “reconciliation” with the Lawrence family.

That claim followed the apology from Met police commissioner Paul Condon, given out by his deputy, Ian Johnston, at the public inquiry into Stephen Lawrence’s murder.

Stephen was killed by racists in south east London in April 1993.

Deputy Met commissioner Johnston told Neville Lawrence last week, “I am very, very sorry and very, very sad that we have let you down.

“We could have and should have done better. I deeply regret that we have not put his killers away.”

It was a testimony to the Lawrence family that they got anything at all out of Met chief Condon.

But Stephen’s parents, Neville and Doreen, were right to view the apology with scepticism.

They put out a statement saying, “The commissioner now accepts that the first investigation was flawed and incompetent. What will happen to those officers? Will they be disciplined? Will those retired now lose their pensions?”

Next Monday Mr and Mrs Lawrence are due to come face to face with their son’s murderers.

The five racists involved in Stephen’s murder were due at the hearing on Monday.

At a judicial review last week judges turned down a plea from Gary Dobson, Neil and Jamie Acourt, David Norris and Luke Knight not to be questioned.

However, the judge ruled that they couldn’t be asked, “Did you kill Stephen Lawrence?” in case they were forced to commit perjury by saying no!


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