I am told there has been relatively little coverage of the Stephen Lawrence case in the U.S. (although the Wall Street Journal has just carried an Op Ed arguing that “Racism and other prejudices would not survive in a police system subject to market forces” [Competing to Be Impartial, by Jamie Whyte, January 10, 2012])
But the circus that was enabled by Lawrence’s murder and has been running for nearly two decades now has reached its climax with the conviction of the alleged killers, after what amounted to a political show trial. So it is worth giving a more or less unadorned recital of the facts.
Stephen Lawrence was a black youth who died from a knife wound given on a South London street in April 1993. A few months later, five white youths were arrested in connection with the death. In April 1994, the Crown Prosecution Service decided there was too little evidence to justify murder charges.
Every “anti-racist” activist in the country promptly set up a shrill cry about the alleged worthlessness of black life. And someone whose best-known photograph shows him giving a black power salute began a posthumous rise in England to stand between Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King.
Because the Authorities had given up on the case, the Lawrence family began a private prosecution (very rarely allowed in Britain) against three of the white youths—Neil Acourt, Gary Dobson and Luke Knight. In April 1996, the trial judge ruled that the evidence given by Duwayne Brooks, the main prosecution witness, was hopelessly unreliable, and instructed the jury to acquit. This did not prevent an inquest jury from ruling, a year later, that Stephen Lawrence had been “unlawfully killed” by five white youths—a finding that exceeded their instructions.
By now, there was a Labour Government in Britain, and it was no longer necessary for Ministers to be led by the bureaucracy and the Main Stream Media. Instead, the Ministers themselves were determined to bring about an irreversible shift in law and public discourse. Though not quite a crime, even questioning whether England should become a state-imposed multicultural love feast was to be made dangerous.
The Home Secretary of the day, Jack Straw, set up an enquiry under William Macpherson, a retired judge. Published in 1999, the Macpherson Report unveiled the concept of “institutional racism,” and made various recommendations, including a dangerously broad definition of a racial incident as “any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person”, that would effectively make the police an enforcement agency of the race relations bureaucracy.
The Macpherson Report also suggested that the men acquitted in the Lawrence case should be retried, once the little matter of the 800-year-old double jeopardy rule had been swept aside.
The law was accordingly changed, by the Criminal Justice Act 2003. Acquittals could now be overturned for murder if “significant new evidence” of guilt could be found.
It took another six years after this for the required new evidence to be produced. Eventually, though, Gary Dobson was put on trial for a second time, and he was joined in the dock by David Norris, who had been arrested in 1993, but never charged. Both were found guilty of murder on January 3 2012, and sentenced to long spells in prison.
Britain’s Main Stream Media went into a long and simultaneous orgasm. People keep telling me that their own dissenting comments have been deleted from the newspaper websites.
Now, what to say about all this?
Bluntly, it strikes me as reasonable to suppose that the two men were framed. They had been demonized and reviled ever since they were first arrested, and I doubt if the kind of people who run Britain’s criminal justice system had the least interest in a clean prosecution.
Aside from this, the evidence of Duwayne Books was significantly different from in the first trial. And, even if the jury was not swayed by ethnic considerations—perhaps significantly, none of the MSM reports have mentioned what may be important facts about the appearance of its members—I suspect that eighteen years of character assassination made it impossibly difficult for the defendants to be given a fair trial.
However, these are secondary considerations. So is what really happened in April 1993.
I used to live within a few miles of where Stephen Lawrence was killed. At the time, I was assured that he died in an argument over non-payment for drugs, or that he had tried to rape someone’s sister. I was even told that he was wearing four sweaters at the time of his death—a common device of muggers, who peel off layers of clothing, one at a time, to confuse anyone who tries to chase them.
I mention these possibilities, though I have no idea whether they are true. And, if, as I rather suspect, the two men turn out not to have been guilty of murder, it would not be the first miscarriage of justice in England.
But what most concerns me is that Gary Dobson could only be prosecuted because the double jeopardy rule had been abolished.
This is something that the self-proclaimed “liberals” in British politics and law have preferred not to discuss. Instead, we have been assured repeatedly that this is another of those technicalities that are alleged to put criminals before the victims of crime. Actually, it may be a common law protection more important for restraining tyranny than trial by jury itself.
In any system of criminal justice, the prosecuting authorities will have a large and permanent advantage over an accused person. They can choose whether, what, when and how charges should be brought. They have unlimited money and access to the best lawyers. They are usually more intelligent, and always more experienced in the workings of the system, than a defendant. So far as the media and many judges and magistrates—and even many juries—are concerned, there is a certain bias in favor of the authorities; and the evidence of a police officer will often be heard with greater respect than that of a defendant.
It is to offset these advantages that civilized countries allow a systematic bias in favor of the defense.
On the whole, English law and those systems derived from it contain the most developed bias. There is habeas corpus, to prevent a person from being held in captivity without charge or conviction. There is the presumption of innocence, so that the whole burden of proof falls on the prosecution, and that any substantial defect in the prosecution case must lead to an acquittal. There is trial by jury, to ensure that judgments of guilt or innocence shall be made by a defendant's peers, and not by a judge employed by the Crown. And there is the double jeopardy rule, to ensure that an acquittal is the complete end of a prosecution, and that a defendant need not live under fear of being tried again before a different judge and jury, or in a different climate of opinion.
Now that the double jeopardy rule has gone, everyone in England is that much less secure from being victimized by the State.
But every time I try pointing this out—often to the same people who used to whine about any alleged irregularity in the treatment of Irish Republican Army terrorists—I get accused of everything short of giving the fatal blow in April 1993.
Nevertheless, we are all certainly that much less secure. No doubt many people in authority wanted this as part of the creeping abolition of due process of law, and used the killing of Stephen Lawrence as their excuse. No doubt many others were so swept up in the cult of the Blessed Martyr Stephen that hurrying England along its pre-existing path to a police state was well worth getting those convictions. But this fact, at least, is a fact.
Another fact is the differential treatment of murders on the basis of color. Thus in 1994, Richard Everitt was killed in Central London by a gang of perhaps fifteen Asians. Apparently, they had gone out looking for a white victim, and apparently were delighted to have found one.
There was no MSM frenzy over this murder, nor any outcry over the lack of determination to find and punish the guilty. Unlike for Stephen Lawrence, there is no plaque set up to mark the spot where Richard Everitt died. His parents have not been treated by everyone in sight with fawning respect. £50 million of the taxpayers’ money were not spent on his case.
And there are probably dozens, or perhaps hundreds, of other black on white murders since 1993 in England that have not so much as been reported in the national MSM.
Those convictions last week were not the outcome of any quest for justice as the word may reasonably be defined. They were the latest evidence of a ruling class project that is intended—for whatever reason—to make slaves of everyone in England.
It would be nice to conclude with the hope that the anti-racist witch-hunt is running out of steam, and that there will be some kind of reaction—that these convictions will soon be regarded as an embarrassment even by those who are still rejoicing over them.
But I do not at all believe this. Whatever its liberal past, England now is being remade in the image of a messianic and totalitarian ideology. That what this ideology claims to promise cannot possibly be delivered, and that the attempt to deliver must involve terrible costs, are not considerations those currently in power are willing or able to bear in mind.
And there is no reason to suppose that those currently in power in Britain will be removed from power until time itself calls them away.
Dr. Sean Gabb [Email him] is a writer, academic, broadcaster and Director of the Libertarian Alliance in England. His monograph Cultural Revolution, Culture War: How Conservatives Lost England, and How to Get It Back is downloadable for free here; hard copies can be purchased here, along with his recent novel The Churchill Memorandum and other works. For his account of the Property and Freedom Society's 2008 conference in Bodrum, Turkey, click here. For his address to the 2009 PFS conference, "What is the Ruling Class?", click here; for videos of the other presentations, click here.