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Tuesday, December 22, 1998 Published at 15:18 GMT


September: Neville Lawrence



Review of the Year
In September the Lawrence inquiry drew to a close. It was set up to uncover some of the errors of the initial murder investigation of Stephen Lawrence, the black teenager stabbed to death on the streets of London.

Five years on Neville Lawrence still hasn't had a conviction for the murder of his son.
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I think the handling of my son's case was a combination of incompetence, racism and corruption.

When we started the campaign the main thing we wanted was to make sure that the people who killed my son went to prison. As time went on we could see it wasn't going to be possible.

The justice that we wanted this year we are never really going to get.

Because of the high profile of the case most of the evidence is well known and even if we had enough evidence now to take some of these guys back to trial we wouldn't even get a conviction, because they would cry abuse.

I used to watch quite a lot of detective stories, I was expecting a lot of different things to happen after the death of my son and it didn't happen.

'They did it'

At the inquiry, I was more or less open, that I wasn't thinking that these men were the ones involved. But every time I saw them I became more convinced that they were the people that were involved. Because of their attitudes, the way that they behaved and after seeing the video, it has made me more certain that there is nobody else to look for.

The worst point was always to sit there and see these boys lying and not being able to do anything about it and in the end they got up and walked away.

There are things that I would have liked to have been done differently. I would have liked families who had been affected by racially motivated crimes themselves to have come and given evidence to the tribunal. But then I was told that this wasn't part of the remit of the inquiry, it was just about Stephen.

Good out of evil

I wasn't surprised about Sir Paul Condon's apology. The thing I was surprised about was that he wasn't prepared to accept that there was institutionalised racism in the force.

I didn't call for his resignation. I said if he is not prepared to do the job that he has been paid to do, he should start to think about leaving and let somebody else take over.

I can't see why he is afraid to make the statement that there is institutionalised racism in his force and then tackle it.

Good has come out of the inquiry because in the area of Eltham where I used to live every 6 months a family used to be in the same situation. In a sense we have spared 10 families from going through some of the trauma we have been going through.

Losing a child

People don't realise the effect one incident like this would have on the whole entire family - it has more or less turned the whole family upside down.

I have been involved in a Granada Television production about the events surrounding Stephen's death. I feel that I have to try and let people understand some of the things that have happened to my family.

There are lots of people out there who still think we are trouble makers and they don't really understand.

People who haven't got children can't really identify with the pain of a mother or father losing their child. So by doing a lot of different things it's a way of relieving some of the pain.

I have got white police officers coming up to me and saying 'Well done Mr Lawrence.' It makes me think that what we are doing is making a difference.

Keep on fighting

To other families in the same situation I tell them its going to be a long fight.

You have to persist with what you are doing, you can't give up and you have to push even though it might seem hopeless, you've got to keep pushing to try and get to where you want to go.

I am keeping an open mind, I need some really strong recommendations to come out of this inquiry and to make sure that some of the things that happened to my family don't happen again.

This time of year I try to hide away and not face the situation. My son is not here because somebody decided that this black boy was going to die.

My year in a word 'nightmare'. That is the only way that I can describe it. I am not expecting anything for 1999, I am just going to have to take whatever comes.
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In this section

January: Scott Ritter

February: Touched by an angel

March: Jane Couch

April: Gitta Sereny

May (1): People of Northern Ireland

May (2): Mo Mowlam

June: The England-Argentina referee

July: Gill Samuels, Viagra creator

August: David Shayler

September: Neville Lawrence

October: Ann Widdecombe

November: Sally Becker

December: Deborah Hickey