Page last updated at 16:33 GMT, Friday, 18 December 2009

Stephen Lawrence murder: Timeline

22 April 1993: Stephen Lawrence is stabbed to death in an unprovoked racist attack by a gang of white youths as he waited at a bus stop in Eltham, south east London, with his friend, Duwayne Brooks. May 1993: The Lawrence family complain that police are not doing enough to catch the killers.

May - June 1993: Five young men are arrested in connection with the murder: Neil Acourt, Jamie Acourt, Gary Dobson, Luke Knight and David Norris.

29 July 1993: Charges against two of the give, Neil Acourt and Luke Knight, are dropped after the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) says there is insufficient evidence.

December 1993: The coroner halts the inquest after the family's lawyers say there could be new evidence that would allow a trial to take place.

April 1994: The CPS says there is new evidence referred to by the family is insufficient to prosecute.

September 1994: Stephen's parents, Doreen and Neville Lawrence, launch a private prosecution against the suspects. A private prosecution is the same as a standard criminal trial, but it is not brought by the Crown Prosecution Service.

April 1996: The private prosecution of Neil Acourt, Luke Knight and Gary Dobson collapses after evidence relating to identification of the alleged killers is ruled inadmissible.

10 February 1997: The jury at Stephen Lawrence's inquest returns a verdict of unlawful killing.

14 February 1997: The Daily Mail uses its front page to name the five men that it says murdered Stephen Lawrence. It invites them to sue, if the newspaper is wrong.

March 1997: The Police Complaints Authority (PCA) announces its own investigation.

July 1997: Home Secretary Jack Straw announces a judicial inquiry into the killing and to identify lessons for the police in dealing with racially-motivated crimes. The inquiry is to be headed by Sir William Macpherson, a retired High Court judge.

December 1997: The PCA report concludes there were weaknesses and omissions during the investigation and subsequent attempts to solve the crime had been hampered. But it also says there was no evidence of racist conduct.

March 1998: The Macpherson inquiry opens. Shortly before the first session, the judge says the five originally arrested must give evidence or face prosecution.

15 June 1998: The inquiry watches a videotape recorded by a secret police camera, hidden in the flat of one of the suspects, showing them brandishing knives and expressing violent racist views.

17 June 1998: Assistant Police Commissioner Ian Johnston says he is "very sorry" to have let the Lawrence's down and to have supported the way the murder inquiry was conducted.

29 June 1998: The Lawrence family call on the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Condon to resign.

20 July 1998: The suspects give evidence. They are pelted with bottles as they leave, having been accused of being evasive.

1 October 1998: Sir Paul Condon apologises to the Lawrence family for police failings. He denies that the Metropolitan Police are institutionally racist.

February 1999: The Macpherson report accuses the police of "institutional racism". It makes 70 influential recommendations, including radical reforms to race relations law. The most important change, which is accepted by the government, is to force public bodies like the police to positively promote racial equality. In turn, this new duty sees a radical legal shift in how public bodies go about their work.

May 2004: The Crown Prosecution finally rules out a second attempt at a trial.

April 2005: Parliament scraps the legal principle of double jeopardy, which prevents a suspects being tried a second time for a crime, even though they have already been cleared.

July 2006: A BBC documentary uncovers allegations of police corruption in the Lawrence investigation.

July 2006: The police launch the Stephen Lawrence murder review, staffed by 32 officers. It examines evidence gathered at the time, looking for opportunities to use new technology to find leads.

October 2007: The PCA's successor, the Independent Police Complaints Commission, finds no evidence of corruption.

November 2007: Police confirm they are investigating new forensic evidence in the case.

February 2009: A report by Dr Richard Stone, a member of the Macperhson inquiry, says the police have made significant progress in reforming, but charges of racism remain.

December 2009: A 62-year-old retired constable and a 53-year-old member of police staff were arrested on suspicion of perverting the course of justice in relation to the alleged non-disclosure of material.



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