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Wednesday, September 16, 1998 Published at 13:18 GMT 14:18 UK


Lawrence lawyer renews attack on Met

Mr and Mrs Lawrence spent five years campaigning for an inquiry

The lawyer representing the family of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence has made a fresh attack on the Metropolitan Police.

In his final submission to the inquiry, Michael Mansfield QC said racism in the force was so deeply engrained that it was not even recognised.

He said racism was the reason why Stephen was murdered and why his murderers are unconvicted.

[ image: Michael Mansfield QC has pursued the case passionately]
Michael Mansfield QC has pursued the case passionately
He told the inquiry into police handling of the case: "Doubtless all investigations, like all human affairs, contain mistakes, oversights and misjudgments, but the scale of shortcomings in this case is so shocking that clear and radical recommendations, followed by swift action, are imperative."

Mr Mansfield said that accident and oversight were not enough to explain what went wrong in the investigation of the black teenager's death.

He said there were at least three principal causes for the errors: racism, institutional lethargy and collusion.

Confidence in the force could only be restored if these elements were stamped out, he said.

[ image: Stephen Lawrence: Murdered in south London]
Stephen Lawrence: Murdered in south London
Stephen was killed in Eltham in south London in April 1993.

The inquiry is principally looking into the behaviour of police in the case, after allegations by the black teenager's family that the investigation was hampered by ineptitude, racism and possible corruption within the force.

It took the family five years to get to the stage of an inquiry.

Earlier this year, the inquiry heard 56 days of evidence during which five young white men, Neil and Jamie Acourt, David Norris, Luke Knight and Gary Dobson faced questioning.

[ image: Neville Lawrence, Stephen's father, thanked the TUC for their support]
Neville Lawrence, Stephen's father, thanked the TUC for their support
At different times the five 'principal suspects' have all been charged with killing Stephen Lawrence but none has ever been tried for the murder.

The men were asked about possession of weapons and racist attitudes against a backdrop of violent clashes with a hostile crowd outside the inquiry building.

In a statement issued after a day of violence outside the building the men denied any involvement in the murder.

They said the case had been twisted and sensationalised by the media.

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