UK

Doreen Lawrence attacks government over racism

Doreen Lawrence
Image caption Doreen Lawrence says the government could do more on racism

The mother of Stephen Lawrence has criticised the coalition government for not doing enough to fight racism.

Doreen Lawrence, whose 18-year-old son was murdered in Eltham, south London, in 1993, told the Guardian she had "not heard them talk about race."

Earlier this month David Norris, 35, and Gary Dobson, 36, were jailed for 14 and 15 years respectively for murder.

Mrs Lawrence told the newspaper: "People take their lead from the government."

She told the Guardian: "If the prime minister said 'This is what I'd like to see happen in our society' ...people will try to work towards that. At the moment I'm not sure exactly what they are doing around race."

Mrs Lawrence also criticised the government for not sending her a letter after the trial "in recognition of what has been denied for so long".

Stephen Lawrence's brother Stuart tells the paper: "David Cameron has not sent my mum a letter saying sorry it has taken so long. It shows the stance of the Conservative government. I don't think they care at all."

Mrs Lawrence, 59, has three grandchildren and she said spending time with them dulled the pain of her son's loss a little and added: "You can't think about doom and gloom. You can't forget so you try to do things, put things in place, to lessen the pain."

But she said she was angry about the way society still treats people of African and Afro-Caribbean origin.

To get on "You have to be better than your [white] contemporaries by three or four times," she claimed.

Stressing the positive

"Even if you have the qualifications, if their name doesn't sound English enough then they don't get an interview, and if they do manage to get an interview they don't get the job," she added.

Mrs Lawrence told the Guardian that schools, colleges and the media must do more to tell positive stories, rather than dwelling on negative ones.

A Downing Street spokesman said: "The prime minister has spoken on a number of occasions of his admiration for Doreen Lawrence.

"He recently paid tribute to Mrs Lawrence and her family for the great bravery they have shown and he believes that their tireless fight for justice has helped to change the country for the better.

"He also recently made clear that he believes that although things have changed for the better, there is still a problem with racism in this country and more work to be done to tackle it."

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