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Monday, July 20, 1998 Published at 18:10 GMT 19:10 UK


Lawrence parents urge police chief to quit

Doreen and Neville Lawrence have heard 56 days of evidence

The parents of murdered black teenager Stephen Lawrence have renewed their criticism of police officers at the end of the first stage of the inquiry into their son's death.

Doreen Lawrence: I don't trust the police
Neville and Doreen Lawrence, who have heard 56 days of evidence, called for the resignation of Metropolitan Police Chief Sir Paul Condon. They claimed the force's attitude had not improved towards black people since the 18-year-old's murder in 1993.

Neville Lawrence said his criticisms of the police investigation "have been vindicated".

[ image: Sir William Macpherson paid tribute to Stephen's parents]
Sir William Macpherson paid tribute to Stephen's parents
The inquiry chairman, Sir William Macpherson, paid tribute to the courage of the couple when he brought the first stage of proceedings to an end.

He said: "I want to end as we started, with a minute's silence to remember Stephen Lawrence, and I would like to congratulate the courage of his parents."

His words were applauded before the inquiry in Elephant and Castle, south London, fell silent in memory of the murdered A-level student who was killed at a bus stop in Eltham, south London.

[ image: Stephen Lawrence was stabbed to death at a south London bus stop]
Stephen Lawrence was stabbed to death at a south London bus stop
The inquiry has heard from 88 witnesses, including the five suspects in the case who were forced to give evidence.

The inquiry has now been adjourned until September to allow lawyers to prepare closing statements and when other interest groups will also be allowed to give evidence on wider issues involved.

Lawrence family solicitor Imran Khan reads out Mr Lawrence's statement
Mrs Lawrence said: "At the start of my quest, all I could see was the face of my son lying on the hospital bed looking peaceful and calm.

"At the time I did not set out with the intention of criticising the police.

"My one contention was that the police had allowed the murderers of my son to walk away free."

But Mrs Lawrence said she had become increasingly angry by the way officers had sought to blame her family.

[ image: Sir Paul Condon: Doreen Lawrence believes he should resign]
Sir Paul Condon: Doreen Lawrence believes he should resign
She added: "The inquiry into my son's murder has shown the public at large how black people have been, and still are being, treated by those who say that they treat everyone alike."

When asked if Sir Paul Condon should resign, she said: "He was there from the word go supporting his officers and therefore I think he should resign."

Assistant Commissioner Ian Johnston of the Metropolitan Police believes standing down would not benefit the force
Neville Lawrence said: "The Met claim that things have improved since 1993, but plainly this is not true."

He acknowledged that the commissioner had apologised over the handling of the case, but said this was not supported by the rank and file of the police force.

He concluded by challenging Sir Paul Condon to answer three questions.

Mr Lawrence wants to know:

  • Whether the police chief will admit racism played a role in the failed investigation.

  • What action had been taken over an officer who had connections with the father of one of five suspects in the case.

  • Whether any of the officers still serving would be disciplined over their role in the investigation.

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