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Thursday, September 30, 1999 Published at 16:15 GMT 17:15 UK

Lawrence father attacks Tories

The memorial plaque at the spot where Stepehen Lawrence died

The father of murdered black teenager Stephen Lawrence launched a stinging attack on the Conservatives, saying they had hidden the truth behind his son's death.

Neville Lawrence called on Labour's conference in Bournemouth to ensure the party remained in power, warning delegates that the alternative was to return to the days where people were "denied any kind of decency".

In an impassioned speech, Mr Lawrence said: "Maybe some of you didn't know that if the Labour Party hadn't won the last election, I wouldn't have been here because, when my son was killed, the people who were in power did everything in their power to stop us finding the truth about my son's death.

[ image: Neville Lawrence urged Labour delegates to keep their party in power]
Neville Lawrence urged Labour delegates to keep their party in power
"We had to expose ourselves to danger in order to do this, but thanks to the Labour Party, we are able to find out the truth."

Stephen Lawrence was 18 years old when he was murdered in Eltham, south-east London, in 1993 in what police described as a racially-motivated attack.

Mr Lawrence thanked Prime Minister Tony Blair and Home Secretary Jack Straw, both of whom listened to the speech, for considering all members of the community.

"What we now have to do is make sure that the lessons that we've learned are carried out and all that we have tried to do is point out the failings in our society and try to rectify them," he said.

"We are now able to talk about racism and if you are allowed to talk about something, you can put it right.

Stephen Lawrence case: Timeline of events
"We now have to make sure that we do the things that put this party back into power because if we go back to the old days we will find ourselves back in the old situation where we are denied any kind of decency.

"I've come from a background where people of a different colours have to survive together."

To applause, he stressed: "If we can't survive together, we are going to die together.

"It benefits all of us if we make the society a better one for everybody."

Mr Lawrence, who dabbed his eyes after receiving a standing ovation, said: "Every morning when I get up I remember that the people who are responsible for the death of my son are still walking around and my son is dead."

Mr Straw paid tribute to Mr Lawrence and his former wife, Doreen, for their "astonishing courage, determination and huge dignity".

Instead of accepting defeat, Mr Straw said, the couple, their family and supporters had decided to honour Stephen's memory "by simply battling on until they got what they saw was something approaching justice".

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