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Page last updated at 08:39 GMT, Wednesday, 4 January 2012

'Bitter lessons' of Lawrence murder

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The two men convicted of the racist murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence 18 years after he was stabbed to death will be sentenced later.

The murder was a brutal crime, but one which led to widespread changes in law, policing and culture in the UK.

"It was a Rosa Parks moment for British society", Matthew Ryder QC, who represented the Lawrence Family in its civil claim against the police, told Evan Davis.

"Society as a whole started to have a discussion about racism that was far more complex, and far more discerning than it had previously been.

"It changed our identity, as modern Britons, as to how we viewed race and racism in a positive way."

But residents in Brixton, speaking to reporter Nicola Stanbridge, still had many reservations.

"I still feel racism is still quite rife in this country," one woman told her.

Lord Blair, former commissioner of the Metropolitan Police who ordered a new inquiry into the case in 2006, said the murder was a "bitter lesson" which led to profound changes in the police force.

Reforms following the case had succeeded in professionalising the police force, he said, and the murder rate in the capital was continuing to fall as a result.


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