Doreen Lawrence on life after Stephen

Doreen Lawrence Doreen Lawrence said the media attention was sometimes a 'nightmare'

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Doreen Lawrence admitted that the media helped her achieve justice after her son Stephen was murdered in 1993 - but that it was also at times a 'nightmare' to be so fully in the public eye.

In a a joint BBC/RTS session as part of Reflect and Respect week, the campaigner - who was last year made a Labour peer - said the media played an 'important' role but suggested that the intrusion into her life was not always wanted, particularly as she was a very private person by nature.

Speaking to BBC journalist Mark Daly at Broadcasting House, she said she believed that the interest in her son's case only built up gradually and that, initially, the media largely ignored the racially-motivated murder of Stephen at a bus stop because he was black.

Stephen Lawrence BBC training programme

  • The BBC will train 20 young ethnically diverse people in broadcasting and production
  • Doreen Lawrence told the audience at the Radio Theatre that 'it was a great idea, but should have happened a long time ago'.
  • She said she wanted to see more diversity in the media, as well as the police force.
  • She added: 'There is so much more that could happen with this organisation [the BBC].'

The story emerged into the national spotlight again when Stephen's parents met with Nelson Mandela in London in 1996.

At the time, Mandela said: 'We are deeply touched by the brutality of this murder, even though it is commonplace in our country. It seems black lives are cheap.'

Lawrence said: 'If [Mandela] hadn't spoken out, nothing would have happened.'

Daly, who presented a Panorama special in 2012 about Stephen's murder, asked Lawrence how she felt after Gary Dobson and David Norris were convicted of the crime two years ago. 'The emotion was there, but I couldn't allow the emotion to be seen,' she admitted, adding that she found it hard to breathe with so many eyes and cameras trained on her.

The Panorama team, led by Daly, followed her to Stephen's grave in Jamaica for a one-off film called Time for Justice, but she judged that 'having a crew there was just a nightmare.'

In an emotional moment, Daly asked Lawrence why her son's murder achieved prominence when the murders of others like him, including 15-year-old Rolan Adams, were forgotten. 'Stephen had me,' she answered quietly to applause.

Doreen Lawrence in Jamaica at her son's grave A Panorama special followed Doreen Lawrence to Stephen's grave in Jamaica

'In some respect the media has been kind to me,' she reflected, but she said her experience has been at times 'traumatic'.

A question from the audience asked if she believed the BBC treated her family fairly. 'I've got no criticism to makeā€¦ but it's not the same for everybody,' she said, adding, 'I was able to speak in a way in which people listened to me.'

She also spoke of losing her identity ('sometimes I don't recognise myself'), the break-up of her marriage and not being able to walk down the street without drawing attention.

'You're a reluctant celebrity,' Daly ventured - but Lawrence refuted this label. 'I'd rather not have any of that and just be me.'

Now a Baroness with a seat at the House of Lords, she said she was determined to give a voice to those who don't have it. 'Everybody should have a voice,' she said.

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