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Sunday, 16 April, 2000, 20:39 GMT 21:39 UK
Public remember Stephen Lawrence
Neville Lawrence
Neville Lawrence arrives at the service
Hundreds of people have attended the first public memorial service to the murdered black teenager Stephen Lawrence.

The congregation gathered at Trinity Methodist Church in Plumstead, south-east London. They lit around 100 candles from a flame kept burning by Stephen's mother, Doreen, in his memory.

It is seven years since Stephen, 18, was stabbed to death in an unprovoked race attack by white youths in south London.

His family usually remember him privately, but Malcolm Phillips, of the Stephen Lawrence Trust, said this year they decided to hold a more "positive and forward-looking" service at which the public could remember Stephen.

Among those attending were Stephen's parents Neville and Doreen, the family lawyer Imran Khan, and the Labour candidate for London Mayor, Trevor Philips.

Doreen Lawrence
Doreen Lawrence outside the church
The minister who led the service, the Rev David Cruise, told the congregation: "While we cannot have any thanksgiving at all that Stephen has died, we surely we must give thanks (that) as a result of his death people have thought much more deeply about `black and white' in this country.

"The story of Stephen is part of the fabric of this nation that makes us what we are and points us to the future."

But he said Stephen's family were still not being kept informed about the murder hunt.

He said they had found out by reading the newspapers that a knife and metal bar had been found in the former garden of two of the original murder suspects.

"There is cause for concern, particularly that still the family are not being kept in touch with the latest developments," he said.

Stephen Lawrence memorial
Previous memorial services have been held in private
Mr Cruise also joined the debate over the language used by politicians to describe asylum seekers.

"We have heard the use of loaded words such as `bogus'. I believe politicians who use those words ought to be ashamed of themselves.

"They will bring forth a bitter harvest of the seeds they have sown."

Forensic tests developed in the last year could reveal if the weapons found at the former home of Neil and Jamie Acourt were used in the murder.

Three of the five original suspects - Neil Acourt, Luke Knight and Gary Dobson - were formally acquitted of the murder four years ago, when a private prosecution brought by the Lawrences collapsed.

The case against Jamie Acourt and David Norris was dropped before it reached court.

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03 Feb 00 | UK
New hope in Lawrence case
25 Mar 99 | Stephen Lawrence
The Lawrence inquiry
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