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Monday, August 23, 1999 Published at 17:02 GMT 18:02 UK


Lawrence friend sues police

Stephen Lawrence was killed in front of Duwayne Brooks

The friend of Stephen Lawrence who saw him murdered by a racist gang is suing police over the psychiatric injuries he says he suffered because of their handling of the case.

Duwayne Brooks is seeking compensation from Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Condon, the Crown Prosecution Service and 15 officers for their roles in failed attempts to bring the killers to justice.

[ image: Brooks: Feels mistreated by the police]
Brooks: Feels mistreated by the police
The officers and the CPS are being sued under the Race Relations Act for failing to provide the same quality service as they would to a white person.

Sir Paul is being sued for negligence for failing to ensure the officers did not behave in a racist manner, Mr Brooks's solicitor said.

He said proceedings had already started at the Central London County Court.

The "racist stereotyping" of him as a hostile young black man damaged the investigation and Mr Brooks's psychiatric state, according to a statement from his solicitors firm, Deighton Guedalla.

'Sense of distrust'

Mr Brooks, 24, said: "The main reason I am pursuing this case is that I do not wish the same occurrences to take place with other members of our society in the future.

"I feel a great sense of sadness and distrust when officers of the law can behave with such racist conduct and not be penalised for their actions."

Sir William Macpherson's inquiry report, published in February, strongly criticised the Metropolitan Police for their dealings with Mr Brooks.

The 15 officers were all criticised in the report into the police handling of the investigation into the April 1993 murder of the 18-year-old student and the lessons that could be learned from it.

Assistant Commissioner Ian Johnston told the inquiry: "There is a real lesson for us to learn in how we handled Duwayne Brooks at the scene.

"I don't think we dealt with Duwayne Brooks very well at all. I think we let him down."

Harassment claims

Duwayne Brooks had complained of police harassment, saying he had been stopped and searched by the police six times this year.

The Crown Prosecution Service last week dropped a charge against Mr Brooks of possessing a dangerous weapon after a pointed metal bar was found in his car.

Mr Brooks said it was a drum tool he used for his job as a service engineer and he had planned to plead not guilty.

The CPS said the case was discontinued because of insufficient evidence.

A Scotland Yard spokesman confirmed that they had received a summons from Mr Brooks's solicitor but were not yet in a position to say what their response would be.

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