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Saturday, June 13, 1998 Published at 06:52 GMT 07:52 UK


Mandela greets Lawrence parents

Nelson Mandela told the Lawrences he kept an eye on the case

The parents of the murdered black teenager Stephen Lawrence have received the express support of Nelson Mandela during the South African leader's visit to Britain.

To enthusiastic cheers and applause, Mr Mandela embraced Doreen and Neville Lawrence on a stage at a crowded meeting.

Mr Mandela told the couple they had his full support in their efforts to bring the killers of their 18-year-old son to justice.

Stephen Lawrence was murdered in a racially-motivated attack at a bus shelter in south London in 1993.

[ image: Mr Mandela warmly greeted the couple]
Mr Mandela warmly greeted the couple
The meeting, at the South African High Commission in London, followed a previous encounter between the two parties in 1993. That meeting was widely credited with having given extra impetus to the police investigation of the case.

But no-one has ever been convicted of Stephen's murder and the police investigation into the death is now the subject of a major inquiry.

The latest meeting between Mr Mandela and Mr and Mrs Lawrence came after the president had finished a speech to 300 young people and was ready to leave.

Warm embrace

He rose from his seat to greet them with warm handshakes and then embraces. He spoke to them quietly and earnestly, away from the microphone.

Afterwards Mr Lawrence said: "President Mandela said he had kept an eye on how things are going at the inquiry.

"He said we still have his support - and that we only have to ask if we need any help from him in any way. It was wonderful meeting him."

Difficult day

Mrs Lawrence said: "President Mandela is a great man, and it was wonderful to have the chance to meet him again."

The face-to-face came after a difficult day for the Lawrences.

The five original suspects questioned by police in the murder case had been granted leave to challenge an order forcing them to appear at the inquiry.

They had been due to appear at the inquiry on Monday.

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