Stephen Lawrence: The Daily Mail V ‘Murderers’ was huge but the ITV interviews were extraordinary
Twenty years ago today the Daily Mail published one of the most eye-grabbing front-pages in recent history. It accused five men of murdering Stephen Lawrence, the black youth killed in a racist crime covered up by an incompetent and racist police force.
In February 1997, one day after an inquest jury ruled that Stephen Lawrence was unlawfully killed “in a completely unprovoked racist attack by five white youths”, the Mail produced its front page.
The Mail challenged Neil Acourt, his brother Jamie Acourt, David Norris, Gary Dobson and Luke Knight, to sue for libel. They didn’t.
Today the paper revisits its sensational front-page headline.
The paper accuses Luke Knight of being ‘The Murderer Who Got Away’. Wow!
The Mail’s allegation is undermined by its own teaser, which says of the self-styled “loveable rogues”: ‘Two have been convicted, one’s in jail on a drugs charge and a 4th is on the run.’ If the Mail claims the five are murderers and only two have been convicted, how can there be only one who got away?
In 1999, the accused men spoke with ITV news. It was compelling television. And a word before you watch: I was in the crowd when they swaggered from court. One thing struck me as remarkable: the restraint shown by all those who saw them.