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The Inquiry into the matters arising from the death of Stephen Lawrence

Submission to Part 2 of Sir William Macpherson's inquiry

The terms of reference for Part 2 of the inquiry are "...to identify the lessons to be learned for the investigation and prosecution of racially motivated crimes", and flow from the evidence submitted to Part 1 of the inquiry dealing with the "matters arising from the death of Stephen Lawrence 22 April 1993 to date..." We believe it is essential that the truth comes out in Part 2 and we therefore make this submission.

 

1. Introduction.

1.1 Comment on Part 1 of the Inquiry

The inquiry into the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence and the failure to secure a successful prosecution in relation to it has been the most wide-ranging and thorough investigation into racism and the police to have ever taken place in this country. It has uncovered a level of police racism, incompetence and possible corruption that has shocked the nation and confirmed the experience of the black community. The public nature of the inquiry, and the unprecedented interest it has generated means that nothing short of the most radical conclusions will be acceptable. The immense anger that five violent racist youths, widely believed to be responsible for the murder of Stephen Lawrence, continue to walk free showing contempt to black people will not go away until justice is done. The unanswerable evidence that the police negligently failed to respond to the racist murder and spent more time covering up and attempting to silence criticism of them cannot be explained away as pure incompetence.

 

1.2 Purpose of this submission

It is the purpose of this submission to request that those who have been the victims of racial assaults, their friends and their families, along with those who have been in the frontline of the struggle against racial violence, are called to testify to the inquiry. Part 2 will get to the truth by listening to the testimony of those people, not simply race relations or legal 'experts'.

 

2 About the Movement for Justice.

2.1 Nature and activity of the organisation

The Movement for Justice is a campaigning organisation set up mainly to fight against police racism and brutality, the persecution of immigrants and asylum seekers and injustices in the legal system. We formally began in the summer of 1995 shortly after the collapse of the Shah Alam, Joy Gardner and Brian Douglas cases. It was formed by various individuals involved in those and other cases from Kingsway College Student Union, the Justice for Shah Alam Campaign, Community Defence, the Langdon Park 4 Campaign, the Justice for Brian Douglas Campaign and Lambeth Unison. The evidence submitted here includes that formed on the basis of some of our involvement in those campaigns before 1995. For many months the main activity of the Movement for Justice was against the Immigration and Asylum Bill (now Act) which we considered as a particularly racist and pernicious piece of legislation. Since then our main focus of activity has been dealing with cases of police racism and brutality in South London, including a campaign against the police being armed with CS spray. We attempt to organise a collective community response from racial violence and police harassment.

We are an informal organisation, our membership runs into hundreds and our decisions are made in weekly meetings open to all members. We do not receive any funding from the Government, local authorities or any other state body. This gives us the disadvantage of very limited funds but the advantage of being truly independent and able to say and do whatever our membership requires. We are not restrained in the same way that many of the organisations making submissions to Part 2 of the inquiry are and we present the views and experiences of our members and supporters in this submission, that is those, mainly from the black community and many refugees, who are both in the front-line of struggle against, and the main victims of racism and racial violence.

 

3. Other racially motivated crimes where the perpetrators have walked free.

We begin our evidence with an examination of some other prominent incidents of racially motivated crime in which the police and courts have failed to convict the perpetrators. Our members have been involved in most of the cases covered here and we examine them in order to suggest the reasons leading to the failure of convictions.

3.1 Rolan Adams

On 21 February, 1991, Rolan Adams was attacked and killed by a gang of racists, calling themselves the 'Nazi Turn Outs' in Thamesmead Estate, South East London. Rolan was only 15 years old and was leaving a youth club when stabbed to death. The only 'motive' for his murder was the fact he was black. A week after the murder the British National Party (BNP) produced a leaflet on the estate claiming "the white community in Thamesmead is under attack".

Some of the police involved in the investigation into this murder were also involved in the Stephen Lawrence case and the similarities in the cases, including the failure to convict racist murderers, necessitates that the Adams case is re-opened and the police's inaction examined by an inquiry. The fact that racists were allowed to get away with the widely publicised killing of Rolan Adams clearly encouraged their attacks including the Stephen Lawrence murder.

Working with some of Rolan's friends we helped set up the Thamesmead Youth Organisation to fight racism on the estate. We request Rolan's friends and family be called to give testimony about the murder and the way it was dealt with.

3.2 Quddus Ali

One week before the BNP's first and last councillor, Derek Beackon, was elected on the Isle of Dogs, Quddus Ali was the subject of a brutal racist attack that left him in a coma. In September, 1993 the 17 year old student from Tower Hamlets college was viciously beaten by a gang of eight racists in Whitechapal Road. They clearly intended to kill him.

Once again the police and courts failed to convict a single person for the attack. In January, 1995 John Rutter, the only man to go to court for the attack was cleared of any involvement. Evidence that whilst on holiday together, Rutter's brother, Neil, told undercover police that John "hates Pakis" and "did do it" (the attack) was not put forward in the trial.

Following the attack on Quddus Ali, the worst in a series against the local Bengali community, local youth demonstrated outside Whitechapel hospital. The police attacked the demonstration and running battles developed between Asian youngsters and riot police. Nine people were arrested and charged with serious offences. The zealous fashion in which police prosecuted Asian youth frustrated at the racist terror they were subject to can be contrasted with the failure to act against the perpetrators of that terror.

Quddus Ali, his friends and family and the 'Tower Hamlets 9' should be invited to give evidence to the inquiry.

3.3 Mukthar Ahmed

Following the election of BNP councillor Beackon, and the attack on Quddus Ali, racial attacks increased by 300% in the Tower Hamlets borough . Police complacency towards attacks on Asians gave racists the confidence to continue with their campaign of violence. On January 30, 1984 a 16 year old was attacked as he returned from a mosque in the Isle of Dogs; on February 1, a 17 year old had 11 bones in his fingers and hands broken by 15 to 20 white youths near Canary Wharf; on February 7 an Asian man was dragged from his car and beaten; on February 8, Chadik Miah, a 14 year old was clubbed and beaten around the head in Stepney.

Also on February 8, 19 year old Mukthar Ahmed was savagely attacked by a gang of 25 racists. Mukthar nearly died after being kicked and beaten about the head. His scalp was nearly removed from his skull which was fractured in three places. Clearly his attackers intended a Ku Klux Klan type lynching. Police complained that they faced a wall of silence in the attempts to convict Mukthar's attackers. But eventually the ex-girlfriend of Nicky Fuller, one of the gang, provided the evidence necessary to secure a successful prosecution. Kelly Turner was so sickened when Fuller swaggered into a Valentine's party wearing the blood stained jeans he wore in the attack and boasting that he had "done a Paki", that she went to the police. Nicky Fuller was charged with causing grievous bodily harm and violent disorder. When he pleaded guilty to the second minor offence, the CPS dropped the more serious charge. The judge then let him walk free from the court as he had served six months on remand. The only racist to be convicted of attempts to kill Asians in east London was let off with a slap on the wrist.

At the time some called for a change in the law, creating tougher penalties for crimes of racial violence . They argued that only this could provide protection for black people from racial violence. The fallacy of this view is evident from the fact that Fuller had committed a serious crime, at least that of Grievous Bodily Harm, if not attempted murder, but the prosecution decided to drop the serious charges against him.

Mukthar Ahmed, his friends and his family should be requested to give evidence to the enquiry.

3.4 Shah Alam

On 30 May, 1994, Shah Alam, a 17 year old student at Kingsway College, was the victim of a savage racist attack by a gang of racists in Poplar, Tower Hamlets. With a friend, Shahid Uddin, they went for a stroll on a sunny, pleasant evening. As they were walking towards a bus stop Shah saw a group of ten to twelve white youths heading towards them. One of them shouted "hit him" and Shahid said "run". Shah was then hit with a hammer on his head by one of the group. After he fell to the ground the youths punched, kicked and hit him about the body. Many of them had knives, one looked like a machete, and they began to stab him. He received repeated stab wounds on the upper half of the body and one youth tried to strangle him. He heard shouting "Paki", "Kill him" and "Get out the country". Finally he was left for dead on the floor.

Shah was rushed to the life support unit in Whitechapel hospital and had to undergo hours of emergency surgery for punctured lungs, liver and kidneys. The doctor said he was lucky to live. Whilst in hospital recovering racist hate mail was sent to the address of his brother-in-law which had been published in a local paper. It read: "Be prepared for whats to come! You Paki". When released from hospital, Shah had to be moved out of London for his safety.

A large gang of white youths were able to run down the streets of east London brandishing knives and sticks in broad daylight with no intervention by the police. Hours later some of the suspects were picked up by police. One had bloodstains on his shoes. Police said they were unable to identify the blood as the sample was too small! The CPS then dragged their feet and the police wrote to a local Asian councillor saying they had closed their investigation and the family could pursue a private prosecution if they wanted.

After continued public pressure and positive identifications of the suspects by Shah and Shahid five youths were tried for attempted murder. Shahid, who had lived where the attack took place was so shaken he had left the country and when the committal proceedings finally took place on 27 January, 1995 at Thames Magistrates Court, the prosecution case rested on Shah's identification of his attackers. The defence had opted for an 'old-style' committal where prosecution witnesses give evidence and are cross examined in order to satisfy the magistrate that there is a case to be answered, so that he can refer it to a jury trial at Crown Court. This meant Shah was effectively put on trial with the CPS lawyer doing nothing to help put forward the case. The magistrate dismissed the case and allowed Goddard, Dixon, Hatcher, Buckley and Mitchell to go free. The suspects never had to answer a single question or appear before a jury despite their positive identification by the victim of the crime.

The magistrates decision provoked a storm of protest. Some of us, then officers of Kingsway College Student Union formed the Justice for Shah Alam Campaign. After a long struggle, courageously led by Shah and culminating in a march of hundreds through east London, the appointment of new lawyer Michael Schwarz of Bindmans & Partners by Shah and our tracking down Shahid, we finally forced the CPS to re-open the prosecution case against the five.

In June 1995, the five suspects faced committal proceedings for attempted murder. This time Shah and Shahid both gave evidence as to their identification. Amazingly, once again the magistrate said there was no case to answer against the five and they were allowed to go free and never face trial for the attack. The magistrates decision can only be described as one of gross racism. As the five walked jubilantly out of court one of them came up to Kamrul, Shah's older brother, and punched him in the chest. When people complained to the police nearby they said they could do nothing about it.

The blatant failure of the system to give Shah justice and the complete lack of confidence that the police and courts would act against racial violence was one of the reasons the Movement for Justice was formed.

Shah has attended part of the Stephen Lawrence inquiry with interest, particularly when the five suspected of killing Stephen gave evidence, and he is fully prepared to give evidence to Part 2.

3.5 Ricky Reel

Lakhvinder (Ricky) Reel's case is of current importance. On 14 October, 1997 he was racially abused and went missing. One week later he was found dead in the River Thames. The police have refused to investigate the racial incident and have claimed he slipped into the river, despite the fact they have no evidence to back this up. Ricky was known to have a phobia about open water making it very unlikely he would have gone there on his own accord. An independent pathologist, who carried out a second post-mortem, has concluded that third party involvement in his death cannot be ruled out and has pointed to various suspicious circumstances. Despite this police have given a low priority into investigating the death and still refuse to investigate the racial incident.

Ricky' friends and family should be invited to give evidence to the enquiry.

 

4. Police Racism

4.1 Black deaths in police custody

The disproportionately high figure of black deaths in police custody is the most stark and brutal evidence of police racism. It would be a gross failure of the inquiry if it refused to consider this aspect of racially motivated crime. In a report for the Community-Police Consultative Group for Lambeth, of 25 deaths since 1986 where the ethnic origin is reported, ten were of black people . That makes 40%, nearly eight times the number of black people proportionate to white living in Britain. National figures show well over 50 black people have died in police custody since the war. Not one policeman has ever been convicted for any offence in relation to what are often clearly police murders. It is extremely rare for police involved in killings to face any internal disciplinary action.

Joy Gardner was suffocated when immigration police wrapped metres of tape around her face and head to 'restrain her'. The police killers walked free from court and back to the beat. Her mother has attended the inquiry throughout, she should be invited to give testimony.

Brian Douglas was beaten to death by the new US style long side batons. No police were disciplined or convicted. Friends and family of Brian Douglas should be invited to give evidence to the enquiry.

An inquest jury heard how police fell on Wayne Douglas 'like hyenas' . His killing by police in 1995 led to a riot in Brixton. Friends and family of Wayne should be invited to give testimony.

The police murderers of Shije Lapete went unpunished, his friends and family should be invited to give evidence.

In March, 1996, Ibrahima Sey, a black asylum seeker was arrested by police in Newham and sprayed with CS whilst being held in custody. He subsequently died of asphyxiation. An inquest jury heard how the CS was sprayed at close range into his face and found that he had been unlawfully killed. This led to calls for the withdrawal of CS spray which have been resisted by the Home Secretary, Jack Straw. Friends and family of Ibrahima, as well as people from the Newham Monitoring Project who have led a campaign for justice for him, should be invited o give evidence.

4.2 Other police assaults on, or wrongful victimisation of black people.

Whilst campaigning for justice for Shah Alam in the streets of Poplar where he was attacked, we came across the case of the Langdon Park 4. On the 11 May, 1994, a well known racist thug, Lee Bourne, who attended Langdon Park school was attacked by a group of Asian youths outside the school. His injuries were extremely minor. Nevertheless, local police decided to give much higher priority to securing arrests than they did for the daily racist attacks of Asian school students, a minority in the area.

The headteacher of the school, Chris Dunne, who has been branded as a racist by the local Bengali community, decided to 'help' the police in their inquiries. Hiding the younger sister of Bourne in a cleaning cupboard he pointed out some Asian school students and encouraged her to identify them as being involved in the attack. He did the same with school photograph albums. One month later, on this evidence alone, police raided the houses of a number of local Asian families at dawn and arrested eight school students. Four were subsequently charged with Grievous Bodily Harm. The four were not even at the scene of the attack and later the charges against them all were dropped. In the intervening period a campaign against their victimisation and against the headteacher, led by local Asian schools students and parents working with some of us, was subject to serious racist harassment by the police, courts and the headteacher.

The head attempted to sue Nick De Marco for libel after a leaflet was produced calling him a racist. When the leaflet was changed and campaigners returned to the school, the head had local police waiting. They told the leafleters that they didn't care what the court had ordered, they would be arrested if they didn't cease leafleting. When they agreed to leave, they were stopped again by more police, had all the leaflets confiscated, names and addresses taken and told they would be prosecuted for breach of the peace. All of this was witnessed by a local councillor.

A teacher in the school, Tony Gard, who supported the campaign was disciplined by the Head, threatened with the sack and received death threats from local white racists. When a march was organised by the parents of local Bengali school students, skinheads and racists from the Teviot estate lined the route hurling abuse and threats of violence.

Despite numerous complaints against the headteacher, and an action against him supported by the Commission for Racial Equality, he continues to preside over a school in one of the areas with the highest recorded numbers of racial attacks on Asians in Britain. When the BNP stood in a local election in the area they issued a leaflet supporting the head for 'standing up to Asian thugs'.

The way in which the attack on Lee Bourne was handled had a detrimental effect on the fight against racially motivated crime n the area. The Langdon Park 4 and their families should be invited to give testimony to the inquiry.

The case of the 'Kings Cross 2' provides another example of the different treatment black and white people receive from the police and courts. Following the tragic murder of Richard Everitt, a white school student in Camden, police carried out a huge operation arresting and interviewing literally hundreds of local Asian youth.

They were backed by the Sun, a paper not known for its concern about racism, who branded the murder as racist. The two youths who were finally convicted for the attack, one of whom is still serving his sentence, continue to proclaim their innocence. At their trial, the judge admitted there was no evidence that they killed Richard, but that there was evidence they were around the group who did and that therefore they must "carry the can" for the murder. Such a judgment appears to say that if you are black, and part of a group, some of whom may commit a crime, you are as responsible as those who committed it. Such an attitude is the reverse of that shown to those members of white racist gangs where there is sufficient evidence of their involvement in the crime.

The Kings Cross 2 and their legal representatives should be invited to give testimony at the inquiry.

The arrest and continued detention of Winston Silcott is testimony to what lengths the police will go to when one of their own is killed. In 1985 police provoked a riot on the Broadwater Farm estate in Tottenham after they killed a local black woman, Cynthia Jarret. Riot policeman, P.C. Keith Blakelock was killed during the riot. The police then pulled out all the stops in order to jail people for the killing of the police officer. Hundreds of young black men were dragged into the police station and questioned. One young man, 13 years old at the time, was held in a police station without access to his parents or lawyers for 48 hours and kept in underwear and a vomit stained blanket until he finally signed a confession.

Confessions were beaten and forced out of those held in custody, other confessions were concocted later by police. On the basis of such evidence alone, the 'Tottenham 3' were convicted for the murder of PC Blakelock. It wasn't until 1991 that the convictions against the three were quashed because of evidence of the police fabrication of statements. If capital punishment had existed at the time, the three would have certainly been executed long before then.

Winston Silcott, one of the three, remains in prison for the manslaughter of a man who attacked him with a knife at a party. If it hadn't been for the police's decision to scapegoat Silcott for the murder of PC Blakelock he would have been released years ago. Thirteen years on he remains in prison, the victim of a justice system prepared to bend every rule to convict people after a policeman has been killed but absolutely complacent when a black person is killed.

Winston should be invited to finally give testimony to this enquiry, whether by day release or video evidence and his brother, George, who has fought for justice over the years should also be invited.

Much more recently we have been involved in the case of Paul Tuakli, a 38 year old black man beaten then charged by police in Brixton. Paul's case is like many other cases that occur daily and go unreported. In May last year, Paul took his mother out to celebrate her 65th birthday. As he was dropping her of at home he was stopped by police who began asking about his I.D. More police arrived and, without provocation, grabbed Paul out of the car. He was then hit on the head with a police baton, had his glasses smashed and had one officer kneeling on his neck so he couldn't breath. Paul lost consciousness when he arrived at Brixton police station. His requests for a doctor and solicitor had been ignored. When he came too, locked in a cell, he banged on the door to attract attention. Police arrived and charged him with criminal damage to the cell door - the only crime he was charged with!

Paul was acquitted at his trial on 17 June this year, in part thanks to a public campaign we organised showing that he was the real victim of the crime of police brutality.

Paul, and his mother Kathy has spoke about his case at the Lambeth Police Community Consultative Group should be invited to give evidence at the enquiry.

The Movement for Justice has been supporting the campaign by the Thomas family, a black family from south London, to get justice after they were attacked with CS spray by police in a Kings College hospital waiting room on 22 March this year. The family was abused and pushed around by police who then indiscriminately sprayed some of them in their faces. The way in which the Thomas family was treated by the police was racist and this highlights the danger of putting an offensive weapon such as CS spray in the hands of police who act in an aggressive, hostile way towards black people. The Thomas family should be invited to give evidence at the inquiry.

During the inquiry itself, considerable controversy surrounded the police use of CS spray on those demonstrating against the five suspects on Monday 29 June. Many of our members witnessed the events as they were leading the protest of those kept from entering the inquiry. It was obvious many more people would want to come to the inquiry on the first ever occasion that the five suspects were to answer questions in relation to the Stephen Lawrence case. The inability of the crowd to gain access, after many had waited hours, and the heavy handed policing were bound to inflame tempers. When a group of Nation of Islam supporters attempted to return to their seats in the inquiry they were physically obstructed by police. Within seconds police were firing CS spray indiscriminately at protesters. Any claim that spray was only used in self-defence can be proved as false by the fact that one of the Lawrence families chief stewards, Assad, who had intervened to try and maintain calm was sprayed and that one of the women staff of the inquiry working behind the desk on the fourth floor complained that she also suffered the effect of police indiscriminately spraying CS. Outside the inquiry a senior officer refused to say who had let of the spray and there was no apology or what appeared a deliberate provocation. The Evening Standard reported that night :

"A police spokesman said: 'An altercation broke out between police officers and protesters in the entrance hall.' He said two people had been arrested and confirmed that CS gas had been used 'to restrain people who were trying to force their way in.'."

In a recent police Complaints authority report this year, Mr Moorhouse said there was no doubt at times officers fired the spray when it was "neither justified nor appropriate" to do so "... its very effectiveness may tempt some officers to use it too readily as an easy way of resolving difficult situations when other means might be more appropriate." The fact that a police spokesman admits CS spray was used to restrain and control demonstrators and that this is the first recorded use of CS spray on a demonstration in England calls for attention by the enquiry. Those who suffered injuries as a result of the CS spray attack should be invited to give evidence.

 

5 The Movement for Justice

Members of the Movement for Justice have been actively involved in fighting for justice for all the people mentioned above, and in trying to stamp out racial prejudice. We believe that as a grass roots community campaign we have some different and important experiences to bring to the inquiry.

In particular, we request you invite Alex Owolade, a leading campaigner against racism and a Unison steward who has been involved in most of the case above, to give testimony.

We also request you invite Nick De Marco, formally the President of Kingsway College Student Union and organiser of the Shah Alam campaign, as well as many of the other campaigns refereed to, to give evidence.

Finally, Tony Gard, who has been involved in many of the cases listed above and who was disciplined for his stand in defence of the Langdon Park 4 should be invited to give evidence.

 

6. Conclusion

The only way for Part 2 of the inquiry to get at the truth in the way Part 1 has done is to invite those with genuine and direct experience of racially motivated crime and police racism to testify. It is only by hearing the testimony of the victims of racial violence, their friends and families, and those involved in supporting them, that Part 2 can really investigate the nature and scale of the problem of racial crime in Britain today.

We request the public inquiry now opens up to the public in order to receive their testimony We particularly request all the above are invited to give evidence:

We should be able to contact most of those listed to arrange testimony if the inquiry is unable to do so.

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