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The Telegraph
The Telegraph
22 Apr 2023


Baroness Lawrence arrives at the 30th anniversary memorial service for her son Stephen
Baroness Lawrence arrives at the 30th anniversary memorial service for her son Stephen Credit: Jeff Gilbert

Stephen Lawrence's mother has said his "story remains as important and relevant as ever" as a memorial service was held in central London to mark the 30th anniversary of the teenager's death.

The murder victim's family gathered at St Martin-in-the-Fields church in Trafalgar Square on Saturday with Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, and Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, also in attendance.

Sir Keir made a short speech and read a poem by Maya Angelou at the request of Stephen's mother, Baroness Lawrence.

The anniversary comes after Sir Mark Rowley, the Metropolitan Police commissioner, apologised for failings in the aftermath of the killing, with the force's response to the investigation being branded institutionally racist in the 1999 Macpherson Report.

Stephen was stabbed to death on April 22 1993 in an unprovoked, racially motivated attack while waiting for a bus in Eltham, south-east London, after he was set upon by a gang of white youths shouting racial slurs and brandishing weapons.

The bungled original investigation hampered by racism and alleged police corruption meant it took nearly 20 years for two of the 18-year-old's five killers to be brought to justice, with three never prosecuted.

The date of his death is now marked by Stephen Lawrence Day each year.

Stephen Lawrence
Stephen was stabbed to death aged 18 on April 22 2019 Credit: PA

Sir Keir told the memorial that "contrasted against the very worst side of Britain, Stephen represented the best", as he lamented the loss of "a life which shone with the light of potential".

He was director of public prosecutions when two of Stephen's killers were brought to justice.

Speaking outside the church, Mr Khan asserted that the Metropolitan Police Service remains "institutionally racist".

He said: "It's 30 years since Stephen Lawrence was brutally murdered, I remember it well as a south Londoner.

"For those of us who are people of colour it had a ripple effect on us, ripples of hate but also the appalling way that the family was let down by the Met Police Service, by the media and by some politicians.

"Thirty years on, we've not made the progress we'd hope to have made.

"It's really important that we recognise that 30 years on, Dame Louise Casey has found the Met Police to still be institutionally racist, we can't ignore that or equivocate on that, we've got to make progress."

Sir Keir Starmer, Stuart Lawrence, John Sentamu, Baroness Lawrence and Sadiq Khan outside the service
Sir Keir Starmer, Stuart Lawrence, John Sentamu, Baroness Lawrence and Sadiq Khan outside the service Credit: Stefan Rousseau

The Casey Review into the Metropolitan Police, published last month, found the force to be institutionally racist, misogynist and homophobic in the wake of a series of scandals, including the murder of Sarah Everard by a serving officer, and Pc David Carrick being unmasked as a serial rapist.

Sir Mark admitted on Friday that the Metropolitan Police "did not dig deep enough" to root out racism after Stephen's murder.

Baroness Lawrence said her son's "story remains as important and relevant as ever" 30 years after his death, adding that she is "filled with immense pride to witness all that has been achieved in his name".

"From launching education initiatives to opening up career pathways and inspiring community engagement, Stephen's legacy has touched countless young lives and moved us closer towards a more just and equitable society", she said in a statement.

"Yet, we must also acknowledge the work still to be done. Inequality persists, and our mission to create a world free from discrimination continues".

Earlier this week, she told the BBC that "nothing much has changed" within the Metropolitan Police in the 30 years since her son was murdered.

Jessica Neil, chief executive of the Stephen Lawrence Day Foundation, said the anniversary was "an incredibly difficult time" for Stephen's loved ones but said she was "feeling hopeful for the next 30 years".

She said the teenager's legacy was one of "hope and change", adding: "He was an ordinary young man who's life and death has inspired extraordinary change in the fabric of British society and so his legacy is one of hope and change and inspiring other young people like him to fulfil the breadth and depth of their potential."