Stephen Lawrence’s father says he has forgiven killers but not Met police

<span>Stephen Lawrence, 18, was stabbed to death by a gang at a bus stop in Eltham in 1993.</span><span>Photograph: Photo News Service/Shutterstock</span>
Stephen Lawrence, 18, was stabbed to death by a gang at a bus stop in Eltham in 1993.Photograph: Photo News Service/Shutterstock

The father of Stephen Lawrence has said he has forgiven the racist killers of his son, but has yet to forgive the Metropolitan police for the failings that left them free.

In a comment piece for the Guardian, Neville Lawrence said his “grief has no ending” and told of his enduring pain to “identify the human cost” of the police’s failings.

The family fought for justice after the murder of Stephen, 18, at a south-east London bus stop in 1993. Stephen was racially abused, then surrounded and stabbed by a gang of five or six youths.

The Met failed the Lawrence family and it took until 2012 for two of the gang to be convicted of the murder, while the rest remained free, with the Met investigation closed in 2020.

Related: Thirty-one years after the murder of my son Stephen Lawrence, I can forgive his killers – but not the Met

Lawrence said: “I have ‘let go’ of my anger towards Stephen’s killers and found forgiveness, because anger and bitterness are corrosive.

“I can find no such forgiveness towards the Metropolitan police. This is not simply because of how they treated my family in the aftermath of Stephen’s murder, or even their failure to secure convictions. It is that year after year, the racism embedded within the Metropolitan police has been exposed …”

Stephen’s parents fought for the police to take the case seriously and in 1999 the Macpherson inquiry found that institutional racism partly explained the Met’s failings.

In 2020, the Met announced an end to the active hunt to find the remaining killers. In 2023, a report by Louise Casey again found the Met to be institutionally racist, which the force’s commissioner, Mark Rowley, denied.

Lawrence said: “Thirty years of broken promises, apologies and false hope. Thirty years of fighting for the truth and to see fundamental change. As a result I have been unable to ‘come to terms’ with Stephen’s murder or even to properly grieve. I do not say these things in order to attack an institution that is striving to change, but to identify the human cost of this.”

Two men – David Norris and Gary Dobson – were jailed for murder in 2012, but police believe others were involved in the attack.

It was recently revealed that police had identified a sixth suspect, who died before facing justice.

For Lawrence and Stephen’s mother, Doreen, it was another blunder by the Met. Scotland Yard has agreed that an outside force may conduct a review.

Neville Lawrence said: “I expect to be part of the decision-making determining the composition of the panel, including the participation of a known and trusted independent observer.

“This is because l have little reason to believe in the integrity of a process in which the Met are involved given my experience with them over the last three decades..”

Now 82, Lawrence divides his time between London and Jamaica, where he was born and where Stephen is buried.

He said: “I find no real joy in life, and will not do so until justice for Stephen has been achieved. I am weary from the constant struggle to secure such justice.

“You do not ‘get over’ the death of a treasured child. When that death cannot even be rationalised by illness, serious accident or by the conviction of all those involved in a murder, the capacity to ‘move on’ is limited.”

The Met said: “On 22 April, after a meeting with the mayor of London, we made the decision that we would ask another force to review our approach to material received by the BBC relating to the murder of Stephen Lawrence.

“Later that day we shared this decision with representatives for Baroness Lawrence, Dr Neville Lawrence and Duwayne Brooks [a survivor of the attack].

“We invited them to share any views around who should carry out the review, or any other comments they wished to make. These views will be taken into consideration before any final decision is made.”