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Tuesday, June 30, 1998 Published at 18:02 GMT 19:02 UK


UK

Violence erupts at Lawrence inquiry

As soon as the five left they faced attacks from the crowd


"Mounting tension and monosyllabic answers" - BBC Community Affairs correspondent Reeta Chakrabarti
Violent scenes erupted as the five principal suspects in the Stephen Lawrence killing left the inquiry into his murder.

The young white men were pelted with missiles thrown from the angry crowd of 200 who had been waiting outside the inquiry in Hannibal House in Elephant and Castle, south London.

Protesters hurled abuse, shouting "murderers" and "racists" as the men walked swiftly down a ramp.


[ image: But David Norris hurled abuse back]
But David Norris hurled abuse back
As they did so fighting broke out between protesters and the men as they were attacked from either side of the ramp.

Hot coffee and bottles were thrown and one of the five, David Norris, traded punches and insults with demonstrators.

The men were bundled into a white van by police officers who protected the bottom of the ramp. The van sped away preceded by a police car.

Police made no attempt to smuggle the men out of a back door in the building, instead opting to control the crowd.

The Stephen Lawrence Family Campaign co-ordinator, Suresh Grover, moved to the front of the crowd and pleaded with them to stop the violence.

Eventually, the volatile crowd calmed down and dispersed.

Questioning completed

Fifteen minutes after the last witness, Gary Dobson, had finished giving evidence the crowd blocked the road outside the shopping centre above which the inquiry had been taking place.


[ image: They were bundled into a van]
They were bundled into a van
There was a stand off with police as the thin white line of officers kept the demonstrators away from the ramp down which the men were expected to leave the building.

Scuffles broke out between demonstrators and police, but they died down as soon as the men were bundled away from the scene.

The window of a passing double-decker bus was smashed during the trouble.

Suspects statement

Before they left the men released a statement. It denied any involvement of the men in the murder of Stephen Lawrence and said the case had been twisted and sensationalised by the media.


[ image: And escorted from the scene]
And escorted from the scene
The handwritten statement was headed: "The statement on behalf of all five of us."

The statement read: "In 1993 we were all arrested for the murder of Steven (sic) Lawrence, which we all vehemently deny.

"We do sympathise with Mr and Mrs Lawrence and the tragic loss of their son. We understand their quest to discover what happened to their son and why no one has been convicted of his murder.

"We have no knowledge of this murder, we were not involved, we did not kill Steven (sic) Lawrence."

Suspects 'suffer amnesia'

Earlier, Michael Mansfield QC, for the Lawrence family, claimed David Norris' mother had indicated to her son what answers to give.

Mr Norris, 21, denied the accusation, saying he could not even see Teresa Norris. She then held up her hand, to which Mr Norris said: "All right, mum."

Mr Norris repeatedly said he could not remember details of meetings he had with his father, Clifford, a hardened London criminal currently in jail.


[ image: Norris: Could not remember meeting father]
Norris: Could not remember meeting father
The Lawrence family have claimed the existence of a possible link between Clifford Norris and corrupt policemen which may have influenced the investigation of their son's murder.

The frustration showed when Ian McDonald, QC, counsel for Dwayne Brooks, who was with Stephen when he was murdered, asked Norris: "Still got this general amnesia?"

Norris replied: "It's not amnesia at all. I just simply can't remember."

To an earlier question from Mr Mansfield, he had said: "If I could remember I would say, but if I can't remember I can't remember."

Mr Mansfield told the inquiry that David Norris's father had fixed his son's earlier Old Bailey trial on a charge of stabbing.

David Norris repeatedly denied any knowledge of these claims, saying: "It's the first I have heard of that."

Luke Knight, the second of the suspects to give evidence on Tuesday, insisted the extreme racist language used by him in the past was down to "immaturity".

"I've got nothing against black people," said Mr Knight.





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