THE Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, paid tribute on Monday to
Stephen Lawrence, 20 years to the day after his murder by a gang of
white youths in Eltham, South London, in an unprovoked racist
Writing in the Yorkshire Post, Dr Sentamu imagined Mr
Lawrence as he might have been today: "a mature intelligent man of
38, a successful architect, with a wife and children of whom he is
very proud". Instead, Mr Lawrence's life was cut short by a
"senseless, racist, and cruel attack", carried out by a "gang of
Dr Sentamu said that the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, for which he
acted as an adviser when he was Bishop of Stepney, had shown "that
the Lawrence family had been ill-served by our justice system. The
'canteen and occupational culture' of the Metropolitan Police
Service had resulted in what the Inquiry described as
'institutional racism', a concept which was clearly discernible in
the investigation of the murder of Stephen Lawrence."
Another positive outcome of the inquiry, Dr Sentamu said, was
the proposal that the 'double-jeopardy' rule be set aside in the
case of murder, if fresh and viable evidence, which could not have
been found at the time of the trial, later came to light." This had
resulted in the retrials and convictions of Gary Dobson and David
News, 6 January 2012). "The force of justice may be slow, but
it is sure," he said.
Dr Sentamu continued: "The elimination of racism remains a
serious task for all of us. For racism is like an invidious and
devastating cancer in society, attacking community structures and
all its components.
"We may congratulate ourselves that it has been eradicated in
one place and we can relax, but sadly it often turns up somewhere
else, with slightly different characteristics - this time perhaps
focused on asylum seekers, or Eastern European workers. Wherever it
is found it must be fought."
A memorial service at St Martin-in-the-Fields, London, on
Monday, was attended by the Prime Minister; the Leader of the
Opposition, Ed Miliband; and the Metropolitan Police Commissioner
Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe."
Mr Cameron said on Monday: "The senseless killing of Stephen
Lawrence in 1993 was a tragedy. It was also a moment that sparked
monumental change in our society - change that has been brought
about by the tireless efforts of Stephen's family in challenging
the police, Government, and society to examine themselves and ask
"I believe that many of those questions have been answered: from
improved community relations to more accountability in policing.
Much has been achieved, but we know that more still needs to be
done. We owe this to the memory of Stephen."
The full article by Dr Sentamu can be read here.