in my view

An insult to Stephen

by HASSAN MAHAMDALLIE

"THEY HAVE had ample time to tell their story. How can they suddenly turn around now and say they are willing to do a no holds barred interview?" So said Stephen Lawrence's aunt, Cheryl Sloley, at the news that the five youths suspected of murdering her nephew were due to appear on television to give "their side" of the story. Cheryl's viewpoint is shared by millions, who are also sickened by the gross opportunism of Granada TV and interviewer Martin Bashir.

The whole project is a calculated insult to the Lawrence family who are faced daily with the fact that Stephen's killers are still walking free. Bashir took the "killers" project with him when he moved from the BBC to a new job at Granada. He was first approached last September after the Acourt brothers, David Norris, Gary Dobson and Luke Knight were given some advice by PR "king" Max Clifford. Max gave his advice free to the "Lawrence Five"—that is what they like to be known as today as it makes them sound like victims of state injustice (they used to like being called "the Krays"). I prefer the rather more accurate description given in the Lawrence report, of thugs "infected and invaded by gross and revolting racism".

The five's mothers have been anxious to "defend" their sons. "We would like to stress that our sons are completely INNOCENT of any violent offence, including the murder of Stephen Lawrence," they complained in February. But their sons have had plenty of chances to clear their names and they have chosen not to.

They all had nothing to say about the series of murderous knife attacks they had been involved in in the run up to the killing of Stephen Lawrence. As the Macpherson report said of their testimony under oath, "To say that they gave evidence would be to dignify their appearance. They all relied upon alleged lack of memory. They showed themselves to be arrogant and dismissive." No one who was at the inquiry will forget Neil Acourt telling Mike Mansfield that he still carried knives in "certain areas". "What kind of areas?" asked Mansfield. "If there was an area where there were more black people than white," was Neil Acourt's chilling reply.