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Discrimination: Brother of murdered Stephen Lawrence to sue Met Police

Stuart Lawrence, the younger brother of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence has instructed a lawyer to raise a complaint against the Metropolitan Police, after complaining that he has been stopped more than 25 times because of his ethnic origin.

Mr Lawrence, 35, is a teacher and lives in Peckham, South London, with his fiancée and young son.

He says that the police regularly target him and can have no reason for doing so other than the colour of his skin.

The last straw for Mr Lawrence came in November when he was pulled over by officers whilst driving his VW Scirocco car. After he had been pulled over by the officers Mr Lawrence asked what had led them to stop him and was shocked when the officer replied that he was 'naturally suspicious' of him.

The story was first broken by The Daily Mail on Saturday, which carried an interview with Mr Lawrence, in which he stated that he believes skin colour is the motivation for the repeated incidents, not his relationship to his brother Stephen.

"I am being targeted because of the colour of my skin, I don't think it's because I am Stephen's brother," he told The Daily Mail.

Stop and search

The police are given a wide range of powers to stop individuals in a public place and to ask them questions or conduct a search of their person. The police have a general power to stop anybody and ask what they are doing, why they are in a given place or whether they are carrying anything illegal. This power is called 'stop and account'. The police must record your ethnicity whenever they use this power.

If police officers have 'reasonable suspicion' that you may be carrying stolen goods, a weapon or drugs in public then they may legally stop and search you. This power is found in section one of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. When exercising this power police must provide information including their warrant card, their powers, your rights, their name and station and the reason for the search.

Police can also use section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 to conduct stop and search on anyone regardless of reasonable suspicion, provided they are in a specified area at a given time. This power was originally created to tackle football hooliganism but is now commonly used in certain areas for general patrols.

Recent statistics have shown that in certain areas ethnic minorities may be up to 30 times more likely to be stopped than Caucasians.

Institutional racism

Following the murder of Stephen Lawrence, the Met was accused in a leading report into their handling of the case of 'institutional racism'. The accusation led to root and branch reforms of the Met and the way it treats ethnic minorities.

The complaint of Stuart Lawrence drives a stake through the heart of claims that the Met has been reformed.

Imran Kahn is Mr Lawrence's solicitor.

"This complaint is the culmination of a course of conduct over many years which amounted to harassment and discrimination based upon his skin colour, his ethnic origin," he told The Daily Mail.

"We are delighted that [Scotland Yard is] pursuing it so quickly," he added.

Source:

Stephen Lawrence's brother to sue Met for discrimination (The Independent)