Eltham, London, SE9 is a ghastly place. I speak from first hand experience: I grew up very near those parts, drank there regularly in my teens, one of my sisters lives there still. It is famous for very little of worth. Bob Hope, Frankie Howerd and Boy George hailed from there. Kate Bush used to live nearby. There is a royal palace. That’s about it. Since 1993, however, it has been infamous for only one thing: the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence.
Like everyone in South East London, I remember the time of this event very well. It happened only a few hundred metres from where my friends and I used to drink and, on an even more personal note, it transpired that one of the group of racist scum implicated in the murder used to go to the same primary school as me (Gary Dobson – the one with the fat, bovine face).
I say implicated because they were, of course, never found guilty of the crime, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. It was unspoken knowledge in the area at the time that they were guilty, but police corruption had protected them. David Norris was the son of a small time gangster and drug smuggler: rumours abounded that he’d paid somebody off. Dobson was (I think, though I cannot find anything to support this right now) the son of a policeman. Something stank, that was pretty obvious.
The story is once again back in the news owing to a BBC documentary being screened tonight (as I write these very words, in fact), which alleges corruption by Detective Sergeant John Davidson, who was handling the murder enquiry at the time. As a consequence, there is talk of the Metropolitan Police launching a new inquiry into the affair. Which would be good, but it still won’t bring these people to justice. But they’re guilty alright. Guilty as hell. This was a position also taken by the Daily Mail of all papers who, in February 1997, printed the names and pictures of all five suspects under the headline “MURDERERS: The Mail accuses these men of killing. If we are wrong, let them sue us.” One of the few times I’ve approved of a Daily Mail front page. As for the paper’s challenge, it has so far not been taken up…