Met Police issues apology to Stephen Lawrence’s mother for breaking promise

22 April 2024, 07:48 | Updated: 22 April 2024, 19:45

The Met Police has apologised to Stephen Lawrence's mother for breaking a promise to answer questions about her son's murder
The Met Police has apologised to Stephen Lawrence's mother for breaking a promise to answer questions about her son's murder. Picture: Alamy

By Asher McShane

The Metropolitan Police Commissioner has apologised to the mother of Stephen Lawrence for not fulfilling a promise to answer questions stemming from a BBC investigation into the murder of the 18-year-old.

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The broadcaster says Baroness Doreen Lawrence was promised an explanation after the BBC last year named Matthew White as the sixth suspect in the case.

Despite initial correspondence with Deputy Assistant Commissioner Matt Ward, no update or explanation has been given.

Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley has now issued an apology, saying: "On top of the failures over the decades this is totally unacceptable."

Mr Lawrence was murdered by a gang of racists in Eltham, south-east London, in April 1993, as he ran to catch a bus with his friend Duwayne Brooks.

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Only two of his killers - Gary Dobson and David Norris - have ever been brought to justice.

The original investigation into his death was hampered by institutional racism in the Metropolitan Police, and claims that corrupt officers had sought to protect Norris, whose father Clifford Norris was a notorious drug dealer.

Last June, the BBC named White, who died aged 50 in 2021, and outlined the bungled handling of the evidence against him.

Two witnesses said White had confessed to being present during the attack, one of whom, his stepfather, was not spoken to by police until 20 years after the murder because officers had previously misidentified him.

The Met said White was arrested twice in connection with the murder, but on both occasions there was not enough evidence for a prosecution.

Baroness Lawrence told the BBC: "(White)'s probably the key one who probably caused Stephen's murder, and (the Met) did nothing about it.

"I'm not sure what they're hiding behind, why they can't come and tell me exactly what they knew then."

Sir Mark said: "We recognise this is a particularly difficult time for the Lawrence family and Duwayne Brooks. I am sorry our failure to respond in a timely fashion has added to this.

"On top of the failures over the decades this is totally unacceptable.

"Restoring trust in the Met is one of my top priorities and that includes how we work with those affected by the failures of the past.

"I apologise to Baroness Lawrence who must have answers to all her questions. I have written to her and offered to meet."

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan's spokesperson also said he had met with Baroness Lawrence where the mayor reconfirmed his commitment to commemorate and celebrate Stephen's life and legacy.

The spokesperson also said the Mayor believes the Lawrence family and wider community need to know that everything possible is being done to bring justice for Stephen and that any new evidence relating to his murder be properly investigated.

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