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Anorak | Stephen Lawrence: How Paul Dacre’s chance meeting with Neville Lawrence helped justice

Stephen Lawrence: How Paul Dacre’s chance meeting with Neville Lawrence helped justice

by | 6th, January 2012

IT’S Day 3 of the Daily Mail’s post-verdict reporting on the murder of Stephen Lawrence by David Norris and Gary Dobson. The Mail deserves credit for its fantastic headline which labelled five men “MURDERERS” including the convicted Dobson and Norris. It was brave and exciting journalism. Mail editor Paul Dacre’s tale of what went on in the newsroom is a great read . The Daily Mail is understandably pleased with itself.

So far the paper has led with:

January 4 front page : “MURDERERS! 15 years ago, the Mail took the momentous decision to accuse five racist thugs of murder, Yesterday, as Stephen Lawrence finally got justice, we were proved right about two of them. Now what about the other three…”

The story runs for 21 pages.

Jan 5 front page : “NO PLACE TO HIDE Judge jails two of Stephen’s ‘evil’ killers then tells police to hunt down thre ‘three or four’ others still at large’.

“EXCLUSIVE: Doreen Lawrence opens her heart and cherished family photos album”

7 pages.

Jan 6 front page : “EXCLUSIVE: How Stephen’s murder destroyed my marriage”

Over three pages, Stephen Lawrence’s father, Neville Lawrence, shows more photos of his son and tells his own life story.

Papers love to show off their highlights. But the Mail is also full of lowlights see its homophobic attitude to dead Boyzone singer Stephen Gately . The trick is to get on with the next scoop and campaign. The grandstanding Paul Dacre did well but the likes of BBC reporter Joe Casey, who went undercover for five weeks (see bladding and lying journalists) to investigate abuse at the Winterbourne View care home is a real star.

And, then, was Dacre’s account the full story?

Angry Mob reproduces a Guardian editorial published on the 15 Feb 1997. It followed the Mail’s “MURDERERS” headline:

Cynics can also point to a very belated conversion by the Mail. Until yesterday, the Mail’s coverage of the shameful killing had been somewhat peripheral. The murder was only mentioned in three stories in the last year before the inquest, only six the previous year, and just 20 since the murder was committed. Moreover, compare yesterday’s leader with the paper’s editorial shortly after the murder which, while hoping the guilty would be caught, was quick to sneer at the supporters campaigning for the Lawrence family: “What is not helpful is the gusto with which the more militant of the anti-racist organisations have hijacked this human tragedy. The black African leader Nelson Mandela was enlisted, while on a visit here, to give publicity to the case. Racism is abominable . . . but is there not also something contemptible about professional protesters who capitalise on grief to fuel confrontation?”

Anti-racism has become the binding national trait witnessed in the treatment of Diane Abbott . The murder of Stephen Lawrence was not just about racism it was also about police corruption and a violent crime. Would the vehement anti-racist help the case, promote openness and help catch the killers? Or would their presence just polarise views and make everyone an anti-racist or a racist?

We also see an Observer article printed on the 16 Feb 1997: “Hostile Mail changed tack on Lawrence justice campaign.” We are told:

THE Daily Mail, the newspaper which last week named as ‘murderers’ the five white youths linked to the killing of black teenager Stephen Lawrence, was originally hostile to the campaign to bring his killers to justice…

the reporter dispatched to cover the story last night told the Observer that the Mail changed its editorial line to support the close family of Stephen Lawrence when it emerged that Stephen’s father had once worked as a plasterer and decorator

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Posted: 6th, January 2012 | In: Key Posts, News Comment (1) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink