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Thursday, June 18, 1998 Published at 20:11 GMT 21:11 UK


Five must appear at Lawrence inquiry

Neville Lawrence said he was "happy with the judgement"

Five men who have been fighting an order to appear at the Stephen Lawrence inquiry have been told they must appear.

BBC News' Reeta Chakrabarti: the five men will finally attend inquiry
The five - David Norris, 21, Neil Acourt, 22, his brother Jamie, 21, Luke Knight, 20, and Gary Dobson, 22 - have all at various times been charged with the murder of 18-year-old Stephen, who was killed in 1993.

Neil Acourt, Dobson and Knight were acquitted at the Old Bailey in 1996. The charges against Jamie Acourt and Norris never came to trial.

They were seeking a judicial review at the High Court of the decision to summon them to the inquiry into the police investigation of Stephen's murder.

Neville Lawrence: "We thought they would be anxious to give evidence and prove their innocence"
They were to be asked about whether they had "black friends or acquaintances", about their views on ethnic minority groups and whether they would consider themselves as racist.

However, Lord Justice Simon Brown made it clear that the men must not be questioned on whether they were guilty of killing Stephen Lawrence.

The inquiry chairman, Sir William Macpherson, had reassured the Law Lords that was not the purpose of his investigation, which is being held under the Police Act.

Counsel for five men

BBC's Legal Correspondent Joshua Rozenberg reports from outside the High Court
Counsel for the five men, Charles Conway, had conceded that there would be some questions put to his clients which would be relevant to the inquiry.

Lord Justice Brown then made it clear that the questions would be at the discretion of Sir William.

He said: "I would hold these applicants cannot properly be asked questions going essentially to their guilt or innocence, but, save only that, I would leave to the chairman's absolute discretion the particular questions which may be asked of them."

Chairman's discretion trusted

If any question was put at the inquiry which did appear to go to guilt or innocence "then I have no doubt that the chairman will immediately stop them," he said.

Lord Justice Brown, sitting with Mr Justice Hooper, said: "Whilst the inquiry involves in a real sense a trial of the police who investigated this crime, it is in no sense a trial of these applicants and it must not be allowed to become one."

Neville Lawrence, 51, father of the murdered teenager, said he was "happy with the judgment" as he left court.

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