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Monday, 12 February, 2001, 16:03 GMT
Lawrence friend negligence claim fails
Stephen Lawrence
Stephen Lawrence died in 1993
A 24-year-old man who witnessed the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence has had a negligence case against the former commissioner of the Metropolitan Police thrown out.

Duwayne Brooks was told by a judge at Central London County Court he could not proceed with the case because his claims were unsubstantiated in law or unarguable on the facts alleged.

Duwayne Brooks
Duwayne Brooks has vowed to appeal
Mr Brooks sued the then Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Sir Paul Condon, and several officers for failing to identify him as a victim following the murder of Stephen Lawrence at Eltham, south-east London, in April 1993.

He also claimed the police failed to take proper notice of the information he was giving them and abused their powers in the way they treated him after the murder.

'Falsely imprisoned'

He further alleged he was falsely imprisoned by the police because officers kept him alone and traumatised in a police car following the murder.

The case was brought in the wake of the publication of the Macpherson Report into the Metropolitan Police force's failure to properly investigate Stephen Lawrence's murder.

But, following an application from the Metropolitan Police to have the case thrown out, Judge Neil Butter found the police had no duty of care towards Mr Brooks because they did not recognise he was in a distressed state.

He said: "On the basis of the facts and the matters explained I do not consider the claimant has any realistic chance of succeeding."

Police 'let off the hook'

Mr Brooks, who was a key prosecution witness in the Lawrence case, was granted leave to appeal the decision.

Following the decision Mr Brooks' solicitor, Jane Deighton, said: "There was one good thing coming out of this judgement in that this was the first time a court recognised that in situations such as Mr Brooks' the police may owe the witness of a crime a legal duty of care.

"But in this case the judge let the police off the hook."

She added: "The judge has given Mr Brooks leave to appeal and we are confident we will succeed in the Court of Appeal.

"It's important for black witnesses and victims of crime that we do."

See also:

04 Jan 01 | UK Politics
Macpherson receives death threats
25 Mar 99 | Stephen Lawrence
The Lawrence inquiry
23 Aug 99 | UK
Lawrence friend sues police
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