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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 April, 2003, 19:14 GMT 20:14 UK
Lawrence mother's 'wounds not healed'
Doreen Lawrence
Doreen Lawrence faces a "difficult time"
As the anniversary of the murder of teenager Stephen Lawrence approaches, his mother has warned complacency may lead to a similar tragedy happening again.

Speaking to BBC London Doreen Lawrence said despite 10 years passing since her son's death she still feels pain at his loss "as if it was yesterday".

She said: "It doesn't get any easier, it seems like just yesterday.

"The work I do with the [Stephen Lawrence] trust keeps me busy and I try not to focus on it too much, but it's not easy when you've lost somebody."

A church ceremony will take place at St Martins-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square, central London, next Tuesday to mark the anniversary.

She continued: "The service is going to be a very difficult time for me because right now I can distance myself from it, but on that day it will be more focused."

Stephen Lawrence
Stephen Lawrence wanted to become an architect
A number of politicians are attending but she added: "Government figures are secondary to all this.

"They have been instrumental in the changes that have come about but Stephen was my son and I want to hold on to that."

The 18-year-old student died after being stabbed during an attack by a gang of youths in Eltham, south-east London, on 22 April 1993.

Nobody has ever been convicted of his murder.

After the Crown Prosecution Service said there was not enough evidence against the five main suspects to bring a case, the Lawrence family brought a private prosecution.

It resulted in a trial of three of the men in April 1996 but the case collapsed within a week after eyewitness evidence was ruled inadmissible.

An inquest into Stephen Lawrence's death ended in February 1997, with the jury deciding the teenager had been "unlawfully killed in a completely unprovoked racist attack by five white youths".

In 1999, the McPherson inquiry into the circumstances surrounding his death criticised the Metropolitan Police for 'institutional racism' and attacked its handling of the case.

Asked if she thought that a racist murder and another bungled inquiry could be repeated, Ms Lawrence said: "Yes it could, it really could.

Lawrence timeline
April 1993 - Stephen Lawrence is murdered
April 1996 - Private prosecution against three suspects collapses
Feb 1997 - Inquest jury says Stephen was unlawfully killed
1999 - McPherson report attacks murder investigation and criticises the Met for "institutional racism"
"In some respects we are beginning to become a little more complacent again.

"People think that we have had the inquiry and so everything's fine, but it's not.

"There are lot of people still complaining about racist attacks."

About the private prosecution, Mrs Lawrence said: "I would do it all again if it meant I could get a conviction.

"It's not a case of opening old wounds because those wounds haven't healed.

"I have no regrets over bringing the private prosecution. If we hadn't done that a lot of what happened afterwards would never have happened.

"We had to make a stand because the government of the day would never have done anything about it."

Race hate mail

She said that things have improved since the McPherson report but there "was along way to go".

"There been many changes. One of the big changes is the Race Relations Amendment Act 2000.

"That brought all institutions into the race relations bill and they are beginning to look at their policies and how they conduct themselves around employees and that's important as well as what the police are doing."

But Ms Lawrence she said she would have "concerns" about her other son joining the Metropolitan Police.

"I wouldn't say no, but there are some elements I would have concerns about because I still think that within the Met black officers feel that racism still exists."

She added that she still receives race hate mail, which has increased in the lead up to the anniversary.

Doreen Lawrence spoke to BBC London
"There's been a lot of changes but I still think there is a long way to go though."

Mayor remembers Lawrence murder
27 Mar 03  |  England
Lawrence pair's race sentences cut
20 Mar 03  |  England
Degree for murdered teenager's mother
22 Jun 01  |  Education

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