If you are ever looking for a pictorial definition of dignity and strength you could do a lot worse than look to Doreen Lawrence the mother of the murdered teenager Stephen. The way she conducts herself, speaks in public about her own experiences and her tireless campaigning for both her family’s journey to justice and on race relations and knife crime.
To discover that the police actively looked for an angle to attack and belittle the family after the fatal stabbing of her son and the subsequent mishandling of the case by the police – taking eighteen year to finally prosecute the two responsible for his death amid claims of racism in the force. A former undercover policeman has decided to come forward to speak publicly about his role in that search for negative material on the Lawrence family.
He says that he came forward because he had expected through the many reviews and reports on the case his role would have been openly discussed and dealt with but the police have swept it and him under tha carpet. Peter Francis was told to infiltrate an anti-racism group to gain trust and find out what he could about the family from the inside. One of the prime motivations was to encourage the media to discourage the anti-police feeling there was across communities of all colours and reduce the stance of the Lawrence family – especially Doreen.
The Met released the statement: “At some point it will fall upon this generation of police leaders to account for the activities of our predecessors, but for the moment we must focus on getting to the truth.” This is not acceptable as there will still be those who were involved in the decision working in the force today and with Mr Francis coming forward those people will be found out before long.
This is not a historical crime and is still in the minds of many in the community and beyond. The killing was a catalyst for campaigns, discussion, debate and a tightening on the laws surrounding knife crime. To use it as a political football and the opportunity to do further damage to a family and parents who had to face the worst thing a parent can face: burying their own child. This callous and malevolent act should not allowed to be brushed away and I hope that the calls for independent inquiries are successful and bring those people into the spotlight for a taste of their own medicine.
Doreen and Neville Lawrence can hold their heads high though as nothing was found to damage their reputation – something Mr Francis wants made clear. As a figurehead in the campaign again knife crime and a prominent advocate of positive race relations Doreen deserves all the respect, awards and commendations she receives. I doubt I would be as gracious and eloquent in my response to such a violent crime and all that followed.