BBC NEWS
BBCi CATEGORIES   TV   RADIO   COMMUNICATE   WHERE I LIVE   INDEX    SEARCH 

BBC News UK Edition
 You are in: Special Report: 1999: 02/99: Stephen Lawrence  
News Front Page
World
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
UK Politics
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
Education
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
CBBC News
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Stephen Lawrence Wednesday, 24 February, 1999, 08:40 GMT
Profile: Sir William Macpherson
The day the Lawrence inquiry was due to open, doubts were thrown on whether Sir William Macpherson would remain at its helm.

Stephen Lawrence case: Timeline of events
The hearing was dramatically halted within minutes of it opening, after the Lawrence family demanded to meet the Home Secretary Jack Straw to raise concerns about his chosen chairman.

Michael Mansfield QC, the Lawrence family barrister, said the problem was "triggered in part" by a newspaper article accusing Sir William of racial insensitivity during his career as a High Court judge.

The accusation was vehemently denied by Sir William, but Neville and Doreen Lawrence only agreed to rejoin the proceedings after Jack Straw expressed "absolute confidence" in its chair.

Strong on tradition

Sir William Macpherson of Cluny is the 27th Chief of the Clan Macpherson. His family home is Newton Castle, Blairgowrie in Perthshire.

In 1996 he presided over the biggest gathering of any single clan since the 1746 Battle of Culloden, leading hundreds of kilted men through the streets of Newtonmore in Inverness-shire.

A man with the most traditional of backgrounds, there's little wonder that eyebrows were raised when he chose to travel to the Stephen Lawrence inquiry by Tube.

The 72-year-old retired High Court judge was educated at Wellington College and Oxford. Son of a brigadier, he was a captain of the Scots guard's before commanding the 21st Special Air Squadron Regiment of the Territorial Army and becoming an honourary colonel between 1983 and 1991.

He remains a member of the Royal Company of Archers, the ceremonial guard for the Queen in Scotland as well a number of golfing and social clubs.

Sir William was called to the Bar in 1952 before being knighted and appointed in the High Court, Queens Bench Division in 1983.

Leading the inquiry

Before he retired from the High Court in 1996 he was involved in many high profile cases among them the jailing of the triple child murderer Robert Black to a minimum of 35 years in 1994.

Murder appeal poster
Appeal for help near the murder scene
He put his stamp on the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry immediately after being appointed to head it saying that he intended proceedings to be "as open as possible". One week before the inquiry began, he visited the scene of the killing in a bid to encourage more witnesses to come forward.

During the trial he insisted that the five suspects should be called as witnesses and dramatically dismissed a favourable internal police review of the investigation as "indefensible".

When he opened the inquiry, Sir William said that "nothing can alleviate the pain and loss" of Stephen's parents over the five "dreadful" years since his death.

But he hoped that by the end of the tribunal they would accept that "all of us have done our best to establish what was done, or not done, so that the future may not see a repetition of any errors which may be uncovered".

Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Stephen Lawrence stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Stephen Lawrence stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | World | UK | England | N Ireland | Scotland | Wales |
UK Politics | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology |
Health | Education | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes