Stephen Lawrence

A legacy of hope

Stephen's childhood

Doreen Lawrence holding baby Stephen


Stephen Lawrence is born in Greenwich, South East London, at 9.30 p.m. on Friday the 13th September 1974, weighing 7lb 2oz to parents, Neville and Doreen Lawrence. The family will move to Woolwich when Stephen’s siblings Stuart (1977) and Georgina (1982) are born.

The Methodist Church London South East District Festival Certificate of Merit for Drawing


The Lawrence family are active members of Trinity Methodist Church, Plumstead. Stephen wins numerous certificates for drawing and painting at the London South East District Festival.

Stephen’s Cub Scout cap and jumper, with a photograph of him marching in a parade.


Stephen joins the 34th Woolwich Cub Scouts where he will achieve Cub Proficiency Badges for: Map Reader, Athlete Stage 1, Home Help, Signaler, Artist, Athlete Stage 3, Photographer, Book Reader, Entertainer, Camper and Cook.

A page from Stephen’s homework book, showing a drawing of the Jabberwock.


Stephen starts at the Blackheath Bluecoat School secondary school.

A selection of items relating to Stephen’s running.


Stephen runs for Greenwich in the Mars Mini Marathon, placing 181st in the Boys 11-13 category, with a time of 19.40. He has also joined local athletics club the Cambridge Harriers, focusing on sprint events.

One of a set of drawings made by Stephen Lawrence.


Stephen is interested in becoming an architect and begins a work experience placement with Arthur Timothy.

Photograph of Stephen c.1992.


Stephen is studying for A-levels in technology and physics at Blackheath Bluecoat School and English language and literature at Woolwich College. He is popular, athletic and handsome, with a flamboyant taste in clothes and a wide circle of friends.

Stephen had many friends from all backgrounds. He showed friendship and tolerance to others, and he often acted as a calming influence and a peacemaker. He was strong willed, ambitious, a ‘go-getter’; a leader not a follower

Elvin Oduro, childhood friend of Stephen Lawrence, writing in 2004

The night of Stephen's murder

Police photograph of the bus-stop on Well Hall Road.


Stephen Lawrence and his friend Duwayne Brooks wait for a bus on Well Hall Road, South London. Stephen walks a little way down the road to see if the bus is coming, and Duwayne calls out to him. The call catches the attention of a group of white youths crossing the road. One of them shouts 'what, what n****r', and they engulf Stephen in a sudden and short attack. Duwayne tells Stephen to run and begins to head up the road. Stephen runs a short distance before collapsing onto the pavement. Duwayne phones for an ambulance and tries to flag down help from passing cars. A couple on their way home from church stop, as does an off-duty police officer.

Police photograph of Stephen’s bag where he dropped it in the road.


An ambulance arrives, but Stephen Lawrence is pronounced dead on arrival at Brook Hospital. He has two five-inch-deep stab wounds to his arm and chest which have severed axillary arteries.

Police response

Some police actions in the immediate aftermath of the murder point towards professional incompetence...

The aftermath

A candlelit vigil at the site of the murder.

2 days later

A candlelit vigil is held at the site of the murder.

Newspaper article featuring the meeting between the Lawrence family and Nelson Mandela.

15 days later

Nelson Mandela meets the Lawrence family to support their campaign for justice.

Extract from letter to Peter Lloyd MP from Imran Khan.

16 days later

Police make first arrests in the case: Jamie and Neil Acourt and Gary Dobson. A few days later David Norris surrenders to police and is arrested. Duwayne Brooks identifies Neil Acourt during an identification parade. Brooks later recognises Luke Knight during another identification parade and he too is arrested.

Stephens coffin being carried as mourners watch, at Stephen's funeral

57 days later

Stephen’s funeral is held in Plumstead, although his body is taken for burial in the family plot in Jamaica.

Extract from a letter to members of the public from G D Etherington, Chief Crown Prosecutor.

97 days later

Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) formally discontinue the prosecution of the five suspects citing insufficient evidence.

Insuffiecient evidence

The Metropolitan Police Service investigation involved significant failings that resulted in a lack of evidence to take to trial...

The ongoing investigation

Metropolitan Police Logo


Coroner’s inquest opened and adjourned due to the start of an internal review of the handling of the murder investigation by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS).

Handwritten notes by a member of the Lawrence’s legal team.


The Metropolitan Police Service internal review, known as the Barker Review, finds the initial MPS investigation satisfactory.

Press cutting from the collection of Doreen Lawrence, referring to the adjournment of the inquest.


Coroner’s inquest reopened and is again adjourned due to the investigation of new leads.

The Stephen Lawrence Family Campaign leaflet


The Stephen Lawrence Family Campaign is founded in 1994 with the aim of fundraising to cover the cost of a private prosecution of the suspects.

Detail from case summary.


The Lawrence family launch a private prosecution against the five main suspects. This is the first ever private criminal prosecution for a racially motivated attack. The volunteer legal team is headed by Michael Mansfield QC.


Imran Khan, the Lawrence family solicitor, reads a statement regarding the private prosecution.

1997 Daily Mail article reporting on the 1994 surveillance footage.


Committal hearing is held at which the legal team have to show that there is enough new evidence to support a case. Michael Mansfield cites video surveillance footage which was gathered in 1994 during a second phase of the police investigation. This footage shows the suspects playing with knives while making deeply disturbing, violent, racist statements. The magistrate agrees that Neil Acourt, Luke Knight and Gary Dobson could stand trial.

Ribbon Campaign launch leaflet


The family launch their Ribbon Campaign at the House of Commons.

Press cutting from the collection of Doreen Lawrence.


Neil Acourt, Luke Knight and Gary Dobson stand trial at the Central Criminal Court. The validity of Duwayne Brooks' ‘fleeting glimpse’ identifications are immediately challenged on the grounds that he had seen the suspects for only a few seconds, in the dark, while running, and his own subsequent descriptions of the men were confused. This results in the collapse of the trial as the judge instructs the jury to find the defendants ‘not guilty’.

Stephen Lawrence Family Campaign flyer featuring photograph of the suspects fighting as they leave the inquest.


Coroner’s inquest is reopened and finds that Stephen Lawrence was “unlawfully killed by five white youths in an unprovoked racist attack”. The Lawrence family make a formal complaint against officers responsible for the investigation.

Right from the start, the night our son was murdered, it seems that in the minds of the police he was only a black boy, why bother?

Doreen Lawrence talking in 1997
Daily Mail front page, February 1997. Headline states Murderers followed by pictures of the suspects


Newspaper the Daily Mail publish a bold and unprecedented front page. Above photographs of the five suspects is a headline starkly labelling the men as murderers and inviting them to sue the newspaper if this is untrue.

Murderers headline

On 14 February 1997, following the conclusion of the inquest into Stephen’s murder, newspaper the Daily Mail published a bold and unprecedented front page, which has proven to be one of the most controversial in British newspaper history...

Press cutting kept by Doreen Lawrence.


Officers from Kent Police are tasked with investigating the MPS handling of the case under the supervision of the Police Complaints Authority.


Home Secretary Jack Straw MP announces a judicial inquiry into “matters arising from the death of Stephen Lawrence”. Includes comments from Neville Lawrence.

Title page of Police Complaints Authority report.


Police Complaints Authority report published, finding significant weaknesses, omissions and lost opportunities but no evidence of racism.

The complaint investigation has not produced any evidence to support the allegations of racist conduct by police officers

Police Complaints Authority, 1997
Flyer for a prayer vigil held by the Stephen Lawrence Family Campaign to mark the start of the inquiry.


Public inquiry opens led by retired High Court Judge Sir William Macpherson supported by Tom Cook, retired Deputy Chief Constable for West Yorkshire; Right Reverend Dr. John Sentamu, Bishop of Stepney; and Dr. Richard Stone, Chair of the Jewish Council for Racial Equality.

Nothing can compensate for the loss the family suffered in Stephen’s death at the hands of violent racists on 22 April 1993. His legacy must be the root and branch change that has to take place in society

Sir William Macpherson, 1998


A reconstruction of Doreen Lawrence giving evidence to the Macpherson Inquiry. Also features an interview with Marc Wadsworth of the Anti-Nazi Alliance.

Programme for a SLCT fundraising dinner.


The Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust is founded by Doreen and Neville Lawrence with the aim of creating a living legacy for their son. Stephen had wanted to be an architect and the aim of the Trust is “to make Stephen’s dreams a reality for others by opening-up the architectural professions to Britain’s most disadvantaged young people.” In the first years of operation the Trust founds the Stephen Lawrence Prize for architectural projects demonstrating creativity in response to small budgets. Bursaries are established for architecture students at universities in Britain, Jamaica and South Africa, while an education programme begins in London schools.


Doreen and Neville Lawrence are invited to meet Nelson Mandela at a reception at the South African High Commission.

Doreen and Neville Lawrence at a press conference held on the publication of the Macpherson Report.


The Macpherson Report is published. The report concludes that the Metropolitan Police Service have a culture of institutional racism and makes seventy recommendations for the police service and beyond.

The Macpherson Report

The Lawrence family campaigned for five years for an official inquiry into the investigation of Stephen's murder...

Stephen Lawrence’s murder was simply and solely and unequivocally motivated by racism. It was the deepest tragedy for his family. It was an affront to society

Macpherson Report, 1999
Poster about reducing hate crimes.


The Home Office establishes the Lawrence Steering Group to monitor the implementation of the recommendations from the Macpherson Report.

Legal & Institutional reform

It is no exaggeration to state that the profound and far-reaching consequences of the Macpherson Inquiry rocked the Establishment...

Doreen and Neville Lawrence speaking to HRH The Prince of Wales at an event.


His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales delivers the inaugural Stephen Lawrence Memorial Lecture. Subsequent speakers will include writer Maya Angelou, journalist and author Yasmin Alibhai-Brown and architect Zaha Hadid.

Detail of the Race Relations Amendment Bill.


The Race Relations (Amendment) Bill is passed, extending the 1976 Race Relations Act to include the police and other public authorities. The 1976 Act had made it unlawful to discriminate on racial grounds in relation to employment, training and education and provision of goods, facilities and services, but this had not applied to all institutions. Now all public authorities have an obligatory duty to eliminate racial discrimination and promote equality of opportunity.

Crown Prosectution Services Headquarters


Crown Prosecution Service review of the case confirms there is still “insufficient admissible evidence” to prosecute suspects.


Following Macpherson Report recommendations, the Criminal Justice Act comes into force, removing the double jeopardy rule which prevents someone being prosecuted twice for the same serious crime.

1993 forensic report on an item of clothing taken from one of the suspects.


Police open a cold case review into the murder, re-examining the original evidence using new forensic techniques which were not available to scientists in the 1990s.

Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) logo


Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigate allegations of police corruption relating to the case.

Architects design of The Stephen Lawrence Centre in Deptford


The Stephen Lawrence Centre opens in Deptford, South East London. It was designed by architect David Adjaye to include teaching spaces, computer suites, starter offices for new enterprise, art and sound studios and an editing suite. The Centre’s innovative teaching programme will focus on architecture, urban design, science, technology, engineering, maths and employment skills.

1993 evidence photograph on an item of clothing taken from one of the suspects


The new forensic analysis reveals evidence that leads to the arrest of Gary Dobson and David Norris.

Extract from the Prosecution ‘Notes for Opening’ from the trial


The trial of Gary Dobson and David Norris begins.


News report on the opening of the trial and the new forensic evidence.

Front page of the Daily Mail after the conviction of Dobson and Norris


Dobson and Norris are convicted of murder and sentenced to 15 and 14 years imprisonment respectively. The sentence reflects their young age at the time of the crime – both were teenagers.

The convictions

Eighteen years after Stephen's murder two of the original suspects, Gary Dobson and David Norris, were finally convicted...


News footage following the conviction of Dobson and Norris, including statement by Cressida Dick, then Acting Deputy Commissioner, Metropolitan Police.

Notes made by Doreen Lawrence during a meeting with Mark Ellison to discuss his independent review


Home Secretary Theresa May MP orders Mark Ellison QC to conduct an independent review into possible police corruption in the initial murder investigation, the use of undercover police and surveillance activity and whether the Macpherson Inquiry was given all relevant information relating to these activities.

Prime Minister Theresa May announcing the public inquiry into the conduct of undercover police officers since 1968.


Mark Ellison’s report, the Stephen Lawrence Independent Review, is published and causes further shockwaves, particularly as it finds that there had been a police ‘spy’ embedded in the heart of the Lawrence family campaign. It is also revealed that police had spied on Duwayne Brooks, particularly attempting to undermine his case for compensation regarding his treatment on the night of the murder and subsequently. In light of these revelations Theresa May orders senior judge Lord Justice Pitchford to begin a public inquiry into the conduct of undercover police officers since 1968.

Baroness Lawrence receives an Honorary Degree from DMU


Baroness Doreen Lawrence is awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws at De Montfort University


The National Crime Agency begins investigations into allegations that certain officers may have shielded the murderers in 1993. A further investigation is also begun to determine whether former deputy Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens withheld information from the Macpherson Inquiry.

Baroness Lawrence is invested as Chancellor of DMU


Doreen Lawrence is invested as Chancellor of De Montfort University, beginning a four-year tenure.

Original student concept drawings for the SLRC exhibition space.


Doreen Lawrence deposits her archive of papers relating to the family campaign for justice to DMU Special Collections, leading to plans to open an exhibition and research centre. Interior Design students are asked to generate ideas for the space.


During the 25th annual memorial service marking the anniversary of Stephen’s murder, Prime Minister Theresa May announces that a national day of commemoration, Stephen Lawrence Day, will take place annually from 22 April 2019. In the memorial service programme Doreen Lawrence writes: “I wish for Stephen’s name not to be defined by his murder, but by the mark he has left on this country and the wider world … I am sure Stephen would be impressed to see what his name and legacy has achieved over the years. It is quite remarkable.”

Doreen Lawrence attends as 120 pupils from five secondary schools visit campus, tour the SLRC.


The inaugural Stephen Lawrence Day is commemorated at DMU attended by 120 pupils from five secondary schools who visit campus for a university experience day and undertake activities with the theme #LiveYourBestLife.


Stephen Lawrence Research Centre opened with special guests Jack Straw, Afua Hirsch and Benjamin Zephaniah in a panel discussion around the Macpherson report 20 years on. A programme of events is launched to engage local schools, students of the university and the wider public with Stephen’s story and legacy.