Stephen Lawrence’s mother says reliving his murder through new ITV drama will be ‘very difficult’, but next generation need to learn about impact his death made on Britain

  • Baroness Doreen Lawrence, 71, was discussing the upcoming ITV series Stephen
  • Her son Stephen was stabbed to death aged 18 in 1993 in racist attack in London
  • Charges against the killers were initially dropped, leading to a public inquiry
  • Stephen’s mother told GMB today that reliving his death will be ‘very difficult’

The mother of Stephen Lawrence said today that reliving his murder through the new ITV drama will be ‘very difficult’, but the next generation need to learn about the impact his death made on Britain.

Baroness Doreen Lawrence, 71, was discussing the upcoming ITV drama Stephen, which stars Steve Coogan as DCI Clive Driscoll, joined by Sharlene Whyte and Hugh Quarshie.

Her son Stephen was stabbed to death aged 18 on April 22, 1993, in a racist attack in south-east London for which charges against the killers were initially dropped.   

DCI Driscoll later put together an investigation that secured the convictions of two members of the gang who committed the murder.

Stephen Lawrence (pictured above) was stabbed to death aged 18 on April 22, 1993, in a racist attack in south-east London for which charges against the killers were initially dropped

Good Morning Britain host Ben Shephard asked: ‘How do you feel about the ITV drama?’

Baroness Lawrence replied: ‘I felt it is mainly about the senior officer, which in the end got two convictions for Stephen’s murder so that is the positive. 

‘The next generation have no idea about Stephen but that is a positive way for them to learn. But for me, constantly reliving the whole thing around Stephen, that is very difficult for me.’

The series has previously been endorsed by Stephen’s parents Doreen and Neville, played in the 1999 original by Marianne Jean-Baptiste and Hugh respectively. 

While Hugh, 66, will reprise his role as Neville, We Hunt Together star Sharlene will take on the role of Doreen in the new drama.

Richie Campbell, Jordan Myrie, Sian Brooke and Adil Ray will also take roles in the production.

Even though the Lawrence family knew the identity of their son’s killers, the original investigation failed to convict those responsible.

Their extraordinary campaign for justice led to a public inquiry which branded the Metropolitan Police institutionally racist and brought about sweeping changes in the law and police practices, transforming thinking and understanding of racial inequality in the UK.

Baroness Lawrence told Good Morning Britain: ‘The next generation have no idea about Stephen but that is a positive way for them to learn. But for me, constantly reliving the whole thing around Stephen, that is very difficult for me’

Steve Coogan seen recording a scene with one of his co-stars in Northolt after ITV commissioned the sequel to their acclaimed 1999 drama on Lawrence’s murder

How did policing change after Stephen Lawrence’s murder?

Baroness Doreen Lawrence and her husband Neville fought for justice after charges against her son’s killers were at first dropped, with Nelson Mandela even meeting Doreen in London following the murder.

Stephen’s death, and the controversial police investigation, led to radical changes in modern policing after a public inquiry found the Met Police was ‘institutionally racist’.  

Then Home Secretary Jack Straw announced an inquiry into his death in July 1997, chaired by Sir William Macpherson. Public hearings began the following year. 

The Macpherson report was published in February 1999, and found original Metropolitan Police investigation was incompetent and officers committed fundamental errors. It also found the Metropolitan Police institutionally racist. 

The inquiry made 70 recommendations – including dedicated family liaison officers and first-aid training – 67 of which had been partly or fully enforced after a decade, according to the Home Office. 

Sir William also formulated a set of performance indicators for police, aimed towards ensuring racist crime was recorded and handled effectively.

The number of ‘racially aggravated’ offences recorded by police in England and Wales increased from 21,750 to 55,557 in 2018, reports the BBC.

At the time of the inquiry, Straw said he hoped the inquiry would be ‘a watershed in attitudes towards racism.’

He added: ‘I want it to act as a catalyst for permanent and irrevocable change, not just across our public services, but across the whole of society… We must make equality a reality.’

Executive producer Mark Redhead previously said: ‘It’s a privilege to be working with Doreen and Neville Lawrence to tell this chapter of the story of their campaign for justice for Stephen. 

‘It’s a story that moves and inspires and is ever more resonant and relevant today.’ 

Producer Madonna Baptiste added: ‘The Lawrences’ campaign for justice totally transformed attitudes to race and equality in the UK and it’s an honour to be able to help tell what is an untold chapter in their story.

‘Current events only highlight how relevant and important Stephen’s case remains and it is such a privilege to work with Hattrick, Frank and Joe Cottrell-Boyce, Alrick Riley and our amazing cast to bring this important story to screen.’

Paul Greengrass, award winning screenwriter and director, who wrote and directed The Murder Of Stephen Lawrence in 1999, will also serve as an Executive Producer, as will Line Of Duty’s Jed Mercurio.

Baroness Lawrence’s comments follow Stephen’s brother, Stuart Lawrence, criticising police in the wake of the controversial race report and the response to the Sarah Everard vigil.

In the Big Issue magazine, Mr Lawrence said: ‘I do a bit of consultancy work for the Met Police.

‘I am trying to help them, but things keep happening that make me go, why should I? Why should I try to help?

‘I’ve been to police training headquarters and heard them being sworn in. It does say to serve and protect the public. That’s what they swear an oath to.

‘And then you see the scenes like that coming out of Clapham [at the Sarah Everard vigil], and you think, how are you serving and protecting us?’

He added: ‘When Sir William Macpherson delivered his report, Sir Paul Condon [then Commissioner of the Met Police] never accepted that the Met Police was institutionally racist.

‘I tell my son all the time: if you do something wrong, or make a mistake, don’t lie. Tell the truth. We can deal with it and then we can move on. 

‘Condon didn’t own up to it. So, when Cressida Dick comes out and says “we are no longer institutionally racist”, I start scratching my head. 

‘When did you say that you were institutionally racist? When was that point, so that we could draw the line in the sand and say, ‘that’s where it was and now we’re moving forward from this point’? 

Steve Coogan pictured back on set as filming continued for a new ITV crime drama about the murder of Stephen Lawrence last month

Coogan is playing the role of DCI Clive Driscoll (pictured), who secured the convictions of two members of the gang who committed the murder in 1993

‘That’s what needed to happen. It hasn’t happened yet.’

Baroness Lawrence also said the authors of the race report are ‘not in touch with reality’. 

Speaking at a public event organised by De Montfort University Leicester’s Stephen Lawrence Research Centre last month, she said: ‘When I first heard about the report my first thought was it has pushed [the fight against] racism back 20 years or more.

‘I think if you were to speak to somebody whose employer speaks to them in a certain way, where do you go with that now? 

The Murder Of Stephen Lawrence won a BAFTA for Best Single Drama (Hugh Quarshie as Neville Lawrence and Marianne Jean-Baptiste as Doreen Lawrence in the 1999 drama)

‘If a person is up for promotion and has been denied that, where does he go with that now?’ 

Stephen, an A-level student, was murdered in Eltham as he ran to catch a bus with his friend Duwayne Brooks. 

For the past five years, the NCA has been investigating whether the Lawrence murder suspects – which also included brothers Neil and Jamie Acourt and Luke Knight – were shielded as a result of corruption and who, if anyone, in Scotland Yard was involved.

In 2019 ex-detective sergeant John Davidson was cleared by the IOPC of any corruption, having faced claims that he was in the pay of Clifford Norris. 

Baroness Doreen Lawrence (pictured with Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick) and her husband Neville fought for justice after charges against her son’s killers were initially dropped 

The IOPC directed a spin-off investigation into the handling of the early stages of the investigation, and it was carried out by the National Crime Agency (NCA).

One issue under consideration was the two-week delay in making any arrests after Stephen’s death, despite suspects being named by anonymous informants the day after he died.

Scotland Yard has spent more than £50 million over 25 years trying to convict the suspects.

A series of forensic breakthroughs led an Old Bailey jury to convict two of the five suspects – Gary Dobson and David Norris – in 2012.

Despite the convictions of Dobson and Norris, three other members of the gang that stabbed Stephen to death have faced no charges.

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