Reaction to Stephen Lawrence murder verdict
- 3 January 2012
- From the section UK
Two men have been convicted of the racist murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence - 18 years after the attack in Eltham, south London.
Gary Dobson, 36, and David Norris, 35, were found guilty by a jury at the Old Bailey after a trial focused on forensic evidence held since 1993.
Reaction has been flooding in to the verdict from those close to the case.
Stephen Lawrence's mother Doreen
I would also like to thank the jury for their verdicts today. However, despite these verdicts, today is not a cause for celebration.
How can I celebrate when my son lies buried? When I cannot see him or speak to him? When will I see him grow up and go to university or get married or have children? These verdicts will not bring my son back.
How can I celebrate when I know that this day could have come 18 years ago if the police who were meant to find my son's killers [had not] failed so miserably to do so. These are not a reason to celebrate.
All I now feel is relief that two of my son's killers have finally been caught and brought to justice.
But mixed with relief is anger - anger that me and my family were put through 18 years of grief and uncertainty, not knowing if or when we would ever get justice.
Had the police done their job properly, I would have spent the last 18 years grieving for my son rather than fighting to get his killers to court.
This result shows that the police can do their job properly but only if they want to.
Now that we have some sort of justice, I want people to think of Stephen other than [as] a black teenager murdered in a racist attack in south east London in April 1993.
I know that's the fact but I now want people to remember him as a bright, beautiful young man who any parent of whatever background would have been proud of.
He was a wonderful son and a shining example of what any parent would want in a child. I miss him with a passion. Hopefully now he can rest in peace.
Stephen Lawrence's father Neville
My life was torn apart by the senseless murder of my son over 18 years ago. Unfortunately no-one was brought before a court at that time as they should have been.
The loss itself, together with the lack of justice, have meant that I have not been able to rest all this time. I'm therefore full of joy and relief that today finally two of my son's killers have been convicted for his murder.
They will be sent to prison and forced to face the consequences of their actions - consequences which my family and I have been living with all these years.
I would like to thank the police and prosecutors for their faultless preparation and delivery of the case.
I would like to thank the judge for the work he has put in to ensure that the suspects had a fair trial. I thank the jury for their careful attention to my son's case day after day and the verdicts they have delivered.
Something has happened over the last seven weeks - I have watched justice being done. As for me, I'm not sure where I will go from here. I will let this good news sink in for some time.
However I'm also conscious of the fact that there were five or six attackers that night. I do not think I'll be able to rest until they are all brought to justice.
Duwayne Brooks, Stephen Lawrence's best friend who was with him at the time of the murder
It can't be full closure because all the suspects are not found guilty. But I'm happy we have a guilty verdict.
But I hope, more than ever, this inspires the investigating team to work harder to bring the rest of the suspects before a jury.
Paul Anderson-Walsh, chief of the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust
Stephen Lawrence's murder leaves in its wake a changed criminal justice landscape, but it is a change in the social justice topography that the Lawrence family hopes will be Stephen Lawrence's lasting legacy.
The greatest desire of the Lawrence family is to give to others what was so cruelly snatched from Stephen - a chance to fulfil their potential in life.
Through the Trust that bears his name, Doreen Lawrence and those who work for and with the Trust are helping to grow a fairer society by watering the seeds of ambition, one 'Stephen' at a time.
Acting Deputy Commissioner Cressida Dick, Metropolitan Police
We do, of course, acknowledge that there were five people involved on the night that Stephen was murdered.
We have not brought all those people to justice. So if we get new evidence, if we have further opportunities, we will respond to that.
And no doubt in the future the case will be reviewed, as other murders are if they are unresolved, to some extent.
We don't see this as the end of the road.
Michael Mansfield QC, who represented Lawrence family in the private prosecution in 1995
My reaction is one of remarkable relief for Doreen and Neville and all the family that surrounded them.
It's a unique achievement for a family to be able to withstand the rigours of the frustration.
There has been incompetence, dishonesty and obfuscation but they have had a singular focus on obtaining justice in the broader sense.
Juries are able to rise above what is sometimes highly prejudicial material. This is not summary justice.
The jury have clearly taken considerable time and care before returning their verdict.
Bevan Powell, chairman of the Metropolitan Black Police Association
The Lawrences' persistence brought about a social consciousness which questioned and challenged the then existing inadequacies and failures inherent within the police and wider justice system to deliver fairness in cases which involved race and minority communities.
Steve Allen, Managing Director of LGC Forensics
I'm extremely proud of the work that LGC's forensic scientists did on this case.
Persistence, meticulous science and innovation can help convict criminals years after they committed the crime.
This case shows that the key to successful forensics is to assume nothing.
Brian Cathcart, author of The Case Of Stephen Lawrence
The idea that there might one day be a conviction was at one point nothing but a fantasy.
The idea that you can go back into the evidence and find these microscopic particles which can lead to a conviction is remarkable.
But there will never be closure. Stephen Lawrence was murdered. We know there were five or six assailants and that means there are people walking around free who are in the same position of Dobson and Norris.
Paul Dacre, editor of the Daily Mail, who had campaigned for prosecutions
This really is a glorious day for Neville and Doreen Lawrence, who after all the betrayals, injustice, and tears, finally after nearly two decades have secured justice for Stephen.
It is a glorious day for the police, who after the utter disgrace of the original investigation have through sheer bloody perseverance and brilliant detective work wiped out this blot on the Yard's history and shown that British policing at its best is still something to be very proud of.
Institute of race relations
In the light of the tenacious struggle waged by the Lawrence family to indict those responsible for the racist killing of Stephen, we are delighted that they have been vindicated.
[However] racial violence is not in any way decreasing - just the circumstances surrounding attacks and the profile of its victims change with the times.
Prime Minister David Cameron
In the 19 years since his murder, Stephen Lawrence's family has fought tirelessly for justice.
Today's verdict cannot ease the pain of losing a son.
But, for Doreen and Neville Lawrence, I hope that it brings at least some comfort after their years of struggle.
Labour leader Ed Miliband
The murder of Stephen Lawrence was not only a tragedy for a talented young man and his family, it was a wake up call to all of us who believe Britain is - and always must be - a country where everyone is shown respect irrespective of race, culture or faith.
I am proud that 18 years on from Stephen's murder, Britain is a much more tolerant and open country. We have new laws to prevent the stirring of racial hatred...
But we must never allow ourselves to become complacent about the threat of racism. And we must continue to confront it, in all its forms.
Peter Bottomley, former Conservative MP for Eltham
The police and media have made up for what went wrong in 1993.
The real lesson to learn is this - if more people could bring up their children like Doreen and Neville Lawrence brought up theirs and fewer people can be brought up like some of the attackers it would be a far better society.
Few of us can say that the colour of our skin is of as little importance as the colour of our eyes or hair.
Clive Efford, Labour MP for Eltham
The Lawrence family have conducted themselves with a great deal of dignity and it's due to that determination that we are here today.
There is some closure for my community. It has been a cloud over Eltham which was tainted as being somewhere which was more racist than other areas, which is something I have never accepted.
Ken Livingstone, former mayor of London
It is extremely moving that the Lawrence family has finally secured a measure of justice. This has been a momentous and long-overdue verdict.
In the course of their dignified campaign for justice, Doreen and Neville Lawrence have changed many lives, and altered the terms of how we think about racism in our country. Institutions and individuals, including of course the Metropolitan Police, had to re-examine how they work.
Jack Straw, former home secretary
I don't suggest for a moment that if you are a black or Asian young man you get the same deal in your treatment by the police as you do if you were an equivalent white young man, so we still have a long way to go.
Things have improved dramatically and that is down to the extraordinary courage and determination which Neville and Doreen Lawrence showed in keeping alive the case for justice for their murdered son Stephen, and for getting on for 19 years they couldn't get anyone convicted for the murder.
Alison Saunders, chief Crown prosecutor for London
This is one of the most significant cases of this generation, changing attitudes, policing and the law. It has taken a long time and a lot of hard work to get here.
The family of Stephen have long campaigned for justice to be done in this case and I would like to pay tribute to them for their perseverance and determination in this matter.