Here we reproduce an archive Socialist Worker article from the 1998 Macpherson Inquiry which probed the police's failure to solve Stephen's murder. Police attacked a demonstration outside the inquiry as Stephen's killers came to give evidence
Socialist Worker, 4 July 1998
Police use CS gas on protest
Outraged, angry, sick to the stomach. Those were people’s reactions to the spectacle of the Metropolitan Police protecting the murderers of Stephen Lawrence this week.
Alongside the racist killers—the Acourt brothers, Dobson, Norris and Knight—the police who let them off should be in the dock.
As one black woman shouted as scores of police escorted the racists safely out of the Stephen Lawrence inquiry, “If it wasn’t for the police we would’ve had justice by now.”
On Tuesday hundreds of police confronted angry protesters. We saw a familiar sight, rows of riot police armed with truncheons, shields and dogs menacingly strung across the road.
The racism and corruption that riddle the Metropolitan Police have made sure Stephen’s still smiling killers walk free.
The police were not content with that criminal failure. They did their damnedest on Monday to wreck the inquiry and make sure the killers went away without uttering a word.
When police at the inquiry entrance saw members of the black separatist group, the Nation of Islam, walk into the foyer, out came truncheons and CS spray.
So much spray was used it travelled four floors, via the lift, and hung in the air inside the inquiry.
That reminded people of the death of black asylum seeker Ibrahima Sey after he was sprayed while handcuffed at an east London police station.
When protesting members of the Nation of Islam entered the inquiry the police bundled Jamie Acourt away. One officer radioed his superior to report, “He’s safe.”
At no point was Acourt even remotely in danger. Everyone in the public gallery wanted to hear what he had to say.
The police then moved in mob handed. Members of the public who first were herded and crushed behind barriers outside the inquiry building, now faced a phalanx of police inside.
Some 30 officers lined the corridor. At one point they even refused Lawrence family solicitor Imran Khan access to the inquiry to do his job.
The police’s military reaction prompted the killers’ lawyers to ask for the public to be expelled from the chamber.
Charles Conway asserted his clients felt “extremely exposed”. How did he think Stephen Lawrence felt that night on 22 April 1993 when he was cornered by the “suspects”?
Timothy Kendal, representing Luke Knight, argued his client felt “a palpable fear”. He wanted “the safety of his witnesses to be guaranteed”.
The police backed the killers’ lawyers. Kendal quoted a senior officer saying, “If the inquiry continues in public I cannot guarantee another incident like this won’t happen.”
Murderers keep up their lies
While police broke up the inquiry, the five racists tried to make it a mockery.
The high court had already said they couldn’t be asked about Stephen’s murder.
Sir William Macpherson, the inquiry chair, gave every impression he wanted the questioning of the racists over quickly.
Even so the killers chose to lie through their teeth, happy to risk being jailed for perjury.
Jamie Acourt was first on the stand. On the way into the inquiry he blew kisses at protesters and spat at them on the way out.
He told the inquiry he was not a racist. When confronted with the transcript of an undercover video showing his gang spouting the most obscene racism, he replied, “I have no comment.”
He denied carrying knives in public. But he has been arrested for doing so, had kitchen knives in his bedroom, various weapons in his house and has stabbed a number of people.
Lawrence family lawyer Mike Mansfield held up a shirt belonging to Jamie Acourt with rips in it that a forensic scientist concluded had been made by him shoving large knives into his waistband.
Neil Acourt was next. He denied carrying weapons. But he too has been involved in a number of stabbings. This vicious psychopath did admit he had carried them in public after Stephen’s murder “for certain reasons, for self defence…in certain areas”.
“What kind of areas?” Mike Mansfield asked. Neil Acourt replied, “If I was in an area where there were more black people than white people.”
He admitted no black person had ever attacked him.
Neil Acourt was confronted with surveillance evidence showing him wielding a knife and saying, “I reckon that every nigger should be chopped up and they should be left with nothing but fucking stumps.” He denied he was a racist.
He did not think using the word “nigger” was racist. “I’ve been through a lot,” he explained.
The most shambolic and outrageous lies came from David Norris, son of south London gangster Clifford Norris.
He was caught on film saying he would like to catch a black person and “skin the cunt alive, set him alight, blow their legs and arms off and say, ‘Go on. You can swim home now’.”
On the same film he said, “The coon’s got knackered up,” referring to Stephen’s murder. He also denied he was a racist.
On Tuesday it was obvious to all that the five had been coached to trot out the same answer to every question—“Not that I remember, no.”
Gary Dobson put his obscene racism down to “just being stupid”.
None of the killers gave any information to the inquiry. As Ian MacDonald QC said, they all seem to have been struck with “collective amnesia”.
History of coverup
22 April 1993: Stephen Lawrence murdered. Witness Duwayne Brooks tells police where the killers have run to. No officer follows them. Duwayne treated like a criminal.
22 April 1993: Car load of racists linked to Rolan Adams murder drives by. Police don’t stop it.
23 April 1993: Informant “James Grant” names Acourt gang as the killers.
22 April—May 1993: Information floods in from 26 different sources naming the killers. Detective admits to the inquiry he should have arrested gang within 48 hours of the murder. Killers destroy blood stained clothing.
May—June 1993: Killers arrested.
July 1993: Charges dropped after a detective testifies that Duwayne Brooks’ testimony had been “contaminated”.
November 1993: Top officer R J Barker presents report clearing officers of any mistakes.
December 1997: Kent Constabulary produces a report which shows “serious failings” in original police investigation.
April 1998: Public inquiry exposes police as racist and incompetent. A coverup is revealed along with allegations of corruption. Police officers say Stephen’s murder was not racist.
Barker Report 1993 is exposed as a whitewash.
June 1998: Condon is forced to apologise to the family. The killers are still free. No police officer has yet been charged.
‘WHY WE ARE HERE’—voices from the protest
“I’ve been coming to the inquiry once a week from the beginning. This case sums up everything that is wrong about this country.
“The press reports are only the tip of the iceberg. It’s spine chilling to hear what comes out and this is not the only case.”
“It’s disgusting the murderers are still free. We saw the way they behaved on that video tape.
“We watched them spit at a black guy when they came out. How can they get away with this so easily?
“The police should not have used CS spray. That was the police causing trouble. People feel the police are also racists.”
Subah Khan and Amina Begum, aged 18
“It’s not just black people here supporting the Lawrence family.
“The killers should have been locked up years ago. The police could have done more. Instead they let the murderers go free.
“We come down here before we go to school and come back after because we want to stick by Stephen Lawrence’s parents.”
Rommelli Simpson, Joyce Henry, Dillon Ruddock, aged 13 and 14