Friday 24 October 2014

Lawrence brother ‘stopped 25 times’ by Scotland Yard

Katie Hodge

Published 09/01/2013 | 12:27

Stephen Lawrence's mother Doreen Lawrence alongside Stephen's father Neville (right) and brother Stuart (left) as he has claimed to have been stopped by police up to 25 times because of his skin colour. Photo: PA

STEPHEN Lawrence's brother claimed to have been stopped by police up to 25 times because of his skin colour as he launched a legal battle against Britain's biggest force.

Stuart Lawrence, 35, alleges officers from Scotland Yard have repeatedly targeted him as part of a sustained campaign of harassment.

The teacher, whose teenage brother was murdered in a racist attack, has now consulted lawyers over the "ludicrous" police action.

He said he was moved to act after he was pulled over by two officers in November while he sat in his VW Scirocco near his home in Peckham, South London.

When he asked why he was stopped, one officer told him the pair were "naturally suspicious" of him, he claimed.

He told the Daily Mail: "I am being targeted because of the colour of my skin, I don't think it's because I am Stephen's brother.

"Whenever I have been stopped, I have never subsequently been charged with anything, and nothing has ever been found to be wrong with my car.

"I have never, ever, done anything wrong. I have never been in trouble with the law. I have paid my road tax and my insurance, and always tried to keep my cars in a roadworthy state."

He said he has been stopped around 25 times but was pulled over at police checkpoints - where officers were apparently checking drivers' tax and insurance - on only two of these occasions.

This was down to "no other reason, apart from racism", he said.

A letter of complaint was sent to Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe yesterday, naming the officers allegedly involved in the latest incident.

Mr Lawrence, who is engaged to be married and has a two-year-old son, said he felt "angry and frustrated" and believed there had been little progress in the way police deal with black people.

His brother was stabbed to death by a gang of five or six attackers in Eltham, south-east London, in 1993, at the age of 18.

The original investigation into his death failed to solve the case and was dogged by allegations of corruption and racism.

The Macpherson Inquiry later concluded the Metropolitan Police was "institutionally racist".

Only two of the killers have been convicted.

Gary Dobson and David Norris were found guilty by a jury at the Old Bailey last year, after a cold case review team discovered tiny traces of forensic evidence linking them to the murder.

Mr Lawrence added: "A lot of recommendations were made by the Macpherson Inquiry but it seems that it hasn't made much difference.

"I would like to know when things are going to change, when is there going to be a society where you are not pulled over because you are a black guy or a black person driving a particular car.

"The decision to stop someone in their car should be based on a sound reason, rather than the colour of your skin."

Mr Lawrence's solicitor Imran Khan told the Daily Mail: "Previously Stuart has not complained or otherwise drawn attention to what has happened to him, but now, when the Metropolitan police seemingly trumpet how things have changed for the better, he has felt the need to take action.

"He has now instructed me to use the full force of the law."

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "Mr Lawrence's complaint, which we received last night, is a very serious matter and it will be investigated thoroughly and speedily.

"Stop and search is an important tool to combat crime and is supported by the community if it is used professionally and fairly.

"Officers are accountable for their actions and it is therefore essential complaints such as these are fully investigated.

"The Commissioner has made it clear that he will not tolerate any form of racism in the MPS. Strong action will be taken against any individuals in the MPS if they are found to have acted in a racist manner."

Mr Khan said Mr Lawrence's complaint related specifically to the occasion when he was stopped at 5.20pm on November 16.

"That was the straw that broken the camel's back," he said.

"That was the culmination of a course of conduct over many years which amounted to harassment and discrimination based upon his skin colour, his ethnic origin."

Scotland Yard is expected to refer the case to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

Lawyers hope the complaint can be resolved out of court.

Mr Khan added: "We are delighted that they (Scotland Yard) are pursuing it so quickly."

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