The mother of murdered Stephen Lawrence says she does not believe that she will live to see full justice for her son.
Baroness Doreen Lawrence, 68, spoke as ITV prepares to air its much anticipated series about the case on Monday night.
Even if the drama brings forward new witnesses, she believes the Metropolitan Police will fail her in this case and other crimes involving black victims.
“I don’t think the Met Police has any interest in this case,” she says. “It’s like going back to all of the crimes where a black family has been going through what we went through. All of these young people have been murdered.
“Since Stephen’s death knife crime has escalated in a way nobody thought it would have done.
“When it was beginning to raise its head really high, they seemed to sit back and say, ‘Oh it’s just black on black crime’.
“Now they are not calling it ‘black on black crime’ any more.
“But the opportunity, when they could have stopped it, was lost.
“No, I don’t believe I will see full justice in my lifetime. Not with the way things are.
“They talk a good talk but they don’t deliver. Everybody deserves justice. That’s what it comes down to.”
Nearly three decades since the loss of her son, who would have been 47 this year, the pain has not diminished. She says: “It does still get very upsetting, how he was taken does still get very upsetting.
“If he had been ill or been involved in an accident that could not have been avoided…
“But when somebody deliberately goes out to take a life and then walks away as if it’s nothing, that’s always very hard to get over.”
More than two decades since the 1999 Macpherson report branded the Met Police institutionally racist, a cross-party group of MPs said just weeks ago that deep-rooted and persistent racial disparities still exist in policing.
They called for urgent action to tackle stop and search, and the low levels of black and ethnic minority officers.
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Baroness Lawrence says: “I think the Met Police would like you to believe things have changed drastically since the Macpherson report came out.
“But if you listen to people within and outside the force, they still have a long way to go. Racism is still within the Met. It hasn’t gone further than where it was back in 1999 when the report came out. I still class that as structural racism.”
While Black Lives Matter has made a massive impression, she is not convinced the message has got through strongly enough at Westminster.
“Where Boris Johnson and this government is concerned, they are not doing anything to make you have confidence in them when it comes to race and race issues,” she says.
Bigotry reared its head during Euro 2020 when people booed England players taking the knee and sent racist social media posts to three black footballers after the final.
The Labour peer calls it “disgraceful”, adding: “If you think about Raheem Sterling – without him England would never have got to where they got to in the Euros.
“But he buys a house for his mother and he is accused of showing off. They really can’t win.”
The three-part drama Stephen begins in 2006, 13 years after the 18-year-old aspiring architect was stabbed at a bus stop in Eltham, South East London, in a racist attack.
It tells how Detective Chief Inspector Clive Driscoll, played by Steve Coogan, led a probe that brought killers Gary Dobson and David Norris to justice in 2012.
They are serving life terms but Stephen’s family believe more people were responsible.
Dobson, Neil Acourt and Luke Knight were acquitted in a private prosecution in 1996.
Neil and brother Jamie Acourt, the fifth suspect, have since served jail time for drug dealing.
Doreen, played by Sharlene Whyte, tells how Clive stood apart from officers she had dealt with before. “With Clive it was the feedback,” she says. “He would say, ‘You’re the mum so you need to know all this.’ Before that nobody seemed interested.”
Despite his pivotal role, Clive was retired in 2014.
“I was upset,” says Doreen. “I think he would have secured more convictions.
“He had other lines of inquiry but he was never given the opportunity. You would have thought the Met Police would have wanted to give Clive Driscoll an award. But they never did.”
While Doreen, who is committed to sending positive messages to young people through the Stephen Lawrence Day Foundation, does not believe the drama could lead the case to be reopened, Stephen’s dad Neville remains hopeful.
The couple divorced six years after the murder. They also have son Stuart, 43, and daughter Georgina, 38.
“I don’t give up on things easily,” says Neville, who is played by former Holby actor Hugh Quarshie.
“I’m hoping something might just happen, because I don’t know how long I will be on the face of the Earth. I am 79. It’s been a long, long struggle and a long journey. But if anything happened I’d be very, very grateful.”
He adds: “I think about Stephen just before I go to sleep and he is the first thing I think about when I get up in the morning.”
The Metropolitan Police declined to comment.
- Stephen is on ITV on Monday night at 9pm