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Stephen Lawrence: stabbed to death waiting for a bus

Straw Announces Inquiry into Lawrence Murder

Home Secretary Jack Straw has announced a substantive inquiry into the murder of the black teenager Stephen Lawrence.

Eighteen year-old Stephen Lawrence, an 'A' Level student, was stabbed to death in a racial attack while waiting for a bus in Eltham, South London, in April 1993.

Mr Straw said, in a Commons written reply, that the aim of the inquiry was "to identify the lessons to be learned for the investigation and prosecution of racially-motivated crimes".

Jack Straw explains the aims of the inquiry on BBC Radio
Dur: 3'58"

"I believe the establishment of this inquiry will allow the concerns of the Lawrence family and others to be fully addressed and will identify the lessons to be learned from this tragic case which will be relevant to the future handling of racially-motivated crimes by the criminal justice system," said Mr Straw.

Stephen's father, Neville Lawrence
He welcomes the inquiry

The inquiry will have the power to summon any person to give evidence, to require the production of documents and to take evidence on oath.

It will be headed by Sir William MacPherson of Cluny, formerly a High Court judge. He will be supported by Thomas Cook, formerly deputy chief constable of West Yorkshire, the Rt Rev John Sentamu, Bishop of Stepney, and Dr Richard Stone, chairman of the Jewish Council for Racial Equality.

Victory for Lawrence Family

The inquiry's announcement marks an important victory for Stephen's parents, Neville and Doreen Lawrence. Mr and Mrs Lawrence have campaigned tirelessly for a public inquiry into their son's killing. They have also strongly criticised the failure of the authorities to secure a conviction.

The Lawrence family have always demanded a public inquiry

In July 1993, the Crown Prosecution Service dropped charges against two white youths accused of the killing because of "insufficient evidence".

At the end of 1994, an inquest into Stephen's death was halted after the family's QC, Michael Mansfield, said he had "dramatic new evidence". However, a private prosecution brought by Mr and Mrs Lawrence the following year, which involved five men, collapsed after Mr Justice Curtis ruled that evidence from one of Stephen's friends, Duwayne Brooks, was inadmissible.

The inquest reopened in February this year. All five of the original suspects refused to answer questions. The inquest jury later decided that Stephen was killed in an unprovoked racist attack.

Last month, Mr and Mrs Lawrence met with Jack Straw. Mr Straw acknowledged that the couple had a "strong case".

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