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 Tuesday, 31 December, 2002, 00:02 GMT
Fighting on: Neville and Doreen Lawrence
Neville and Doreen Lawrence and Prince Charles
Prince Charles joins the Lawrences for their charity launch
Neville and Doreen Lawrence have been awarded OBEs for services to community relations almost 10 years after the murder of their son Stephen.

Neville and Doreen Lawrence never planned on becoming icons in the long standing fight for racial equality in Britain.

But the murder of their son Stephen, on 22 April 1993, and the subsequent bungled investigation, changed all that.

Doreen and Neville Lawrence
Initially, Doreen was more vocal in the fight for justice
The Lawrences fought a long and arduous campaign to expose failings at the heart of Britain's biggest force, the Metropolitan Police.

They said they had been denied justice for one reason: they and their dead son were black.

The results of that campaign, which culminated in the MacPherson inquiry into Stephen's death, transformed the race relations landscape in Britain forever.

The inquiry's central finding, that the Met was "institutionally racist", sent shockwaves through the establishment.

22 Apr 93: Stephen murdered in S London
Apr 94: His family launches private prosecution, but it collapses
Feb 97: Daily Mail names 5 men it says were responsible
July 98: Suspects pelted with bottles after inquiry
Oct 98: Met boss Sir Paul Condon apologises to family for police failure
Feb 99: MacPherson report blames 'institutionalised racism'
And many of the proposals made by MacPherson have since had a far reaching influence in the handling of race issues.

The Lawrences' influence can be felt even further, with the government's declared aim to scrap the age old rule of double jeopardy in English law.

The rule states that anyone cleared of a crime in court cannot be retried for the same crime at a later date. There was a public outcry when prosecutions against three of the five prime suspects in the Lawrence murder failed.

At the heart of their campaign was Neville Lawrence's assertion that "I am doing what any other father would have done in my position. I love my child and he's not here to do what I'm doing so I have to do it for him".

Neville Lawrence came to Britain from Jamaica in 1960, aged 18, training in plastering, upholstery and carpentry.

Stephen Lawrence
Stephen Lawrence was stabbed at a bus stop
The couple's romance began on an outing to an open-air concert. After marrying in 1972, they set up home in a flat in Plumstead. Stephen was born in 1974, followed by Stuart and Georgina.

Doreen worked in a bank but later helped out at Georgina's school and eventually studied a degree course to become a special needs teacher.

"They were a friendly, relaxed, religious and law-abiding family who brought their children up with self-confidence and not to distinguish between black and white," said the Reverend David Cruise, who led the family's church in Plumstead.

Separate ways

As individuals, Neville and Doreen have dealt with grief and anger in different ways. In the early days, Doreen was the more vocal. It was she who led the fight and gave most of the media interviews.

Later on, Neville took centre stage, finding himself addressing conferences and forging links with other campaigns.

But the strain of this battle took its toll on their marriage and they are now separated, with Neville living in the West Indies and Doreen still in London.

Both remain vocal in the media on racial matters and together they launched the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust.

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