22 April 2022
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Stephen Lawrence Day is celebrated annually on 22 April to honour the life and legacy of Stephen Lawrence. Stephen would have been 47 years old today.

The inaugural Stephen Lawrence Day took place on 22 April 2019 on the 26th anniversary of Stephen’s death. I was two years old and my brother was 6 years old when Stephen Lawrence was fatally stabbed at a bus stop in Eltham, south-east London. His murder should resonate with us all because we have a shared humanity.

Who was Stephen Lawrence?

Stephen Lawrence was born on 13 September 1974. He was a beloved son and older brother who had dreams of becoming an architect.

Tragically, Stephen’s never realised his career aspirations because he was brutally stabbed in an unprovoked, racist attack at a bus stop on Well Hall Road, Eltham. The fateful events of 22 April 1993 would later be described as the “murder that changed a nation.” Stephen was 18 years old.

As a teenager, Stephen was a gifted runner who represented the Cambridge Harriers Athletics Club and he also enjoyed expressing himself creatively through drawing.

What happened to Stephen Lawrence on 22 April 1993?

On the evening of 22 April 1993, Doreen and Neville Lawrence lost their firstborn child, Georgina and Stuart Lawrence lost their elder brother and Duwayne Brooks lost his best friend. A group of white males stabbed Stephen in his right collarbone and in his left shoulder which led to a partially collapsed lung and blood loss from four major blood vessels.

The racially motivated attack of Stephen Lawrence became the catalyst for a racial awareness awakening in England that is not dissimilar to the shockwaves that reverberated after the murder of George Floyd on 25 May 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

How is Stephen Lawrence connected to the monumental Macpherson Report?

In the aftermath of the murder of Stephen Lawrence, a great outpouring of grief, anguish and anger swept across the nation. Neville and Doreen Lawrence bravely and relentlessly led a public campaign for justice for their beloved son which culminated in a public inquiry.

In May 1993, the campaign for justice for Stephen attracted the attention of anti-apartheid activist, Nelson Mandela who met with Neville and Doreen Lawrence on a visit to Britain. Mandela made parallels between the murder of Stephen Lawrence and the racial discrimination in apartheid South Africa.

In February 1999, the report of Sir William Macpherson of Cluny titled ‘The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry’ was published. At the time of publication, the landmark report was hailed as “one of the most important moments in the modern history of criminal justice in Britain”. It was found that the murder investigation conducted by the Metropolitan Police following Stephen’s death was “marred by a combination of professional incompetence, institutional racism and a failure of leadership by senior officers”.

Six years after his death, the perpetrators of the heinous attack had still not been convicted.

The long road to justice for Stephen

The landmark Macpherson report put forward 70 recommendations including “consideration should be given to the Court of Appeal being given the power to permit prosecution after acquittal where fresh and viable evidence is presented”.

April 2005

The Criminal Justice Act 2003 which came into force in 2005 partially abolished the common law principle known as “double jeopardy” which “does not permit a person who has been acquitted or convicted of an offence to be retried for the same offence”.

September 2010

Gary Dobson and David Norris are charged in connection with the murder of Stephen Lawrence.

November 2011

During the trial of Gary Dobson and David Norris at the Old Bailey, evidence is adduced in relation to DNA belonging to Stephen Lawrence which was found on the clothing of the defendants which placed them at the crime scene.

January 2012

Gary Dobson and David Norris are convicted of the murder of Stephen Lawrence and sentenced to life imprisonment.

It is poignant that Stephen was murdered at the age of 18 and it took 19 years for some of those involved in the unprovoked racially motivated attack to be brought to justice.

April 2018

The Metropolitan Police announced that the Stephen murder investigation is “unlikely to progress further” in the absence of new information and new lines of inquiry.

January 2020

The Stephen Lawrence Day Foundation is registered as a charitable incorporated organisation (charity number:1187566). Trustees include Stephen’s mother, Baroness Doreen Lawrence OBE and Stephen’s sister, Georgina Lawrence.

Mewburn Ellis LLP is committed to promoting Inclusion & Diversity (see here). As part of this commitment Mewburn makes charitable donations to diversity and inclusion charities including the Stephen Lawrence Day Foundation.

The legacy of Stephen Lawrence

Stephen Lawrence Day is intended to be a “reflective learning experience, and a celebration and a journey toward greater equality and inclusion for all.” – Baroness Doreen Lawrence OBE

We should never forget Stephen Lawrence, who he was and who he had the potential to become.

 



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This blog was originally written by Hilda-Georgina Kwafo-Akoto.

Kate is Head of Trade Marks and a member of our Management Board. She is a Solicitor and Chartered Trade Mark Attorney with over 25 years’ experience in relation to trade marks and related copyright, design and internet matters. Her work includes advising on the adoption, registration and enforcement of trade marks internationally, with a particular focus on the leisure and retail industries with a global reach. She has a particular expertise in counselling clients on international filing and enforcement strategies and avoiding dilution of the value of trade marks. Advising charities has also been a key aspect of Kate’s work and she was awarded an MBE in 2016 for services to education. Kate is the former President of the Chartered Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys and currently chairs the CITMA Brexit taskforce.
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