Stephen Lawrence’s father ‘in tears’ over Hugh Quarshie portrayal in ITV drama

Stephen Lawrence’s father: I will never stop fighting for justice

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Stephen was murdered when he was 18 years old, in a racially motived attack which took place in South-East London almost 30 years ago. Following on from the film broadcast by ITV in 1999, The Murder of Stephen Lawrence, a new three-part drama set 13 years later will explore how Neville and his late son’s mother, Doreen Lawrence, continued to fight for justice. BBC soap star Hugh portrays Stephen’s father once more after starring in the original dramatisation of the killing but the latest episodes made Neville very emotional when he got to watch them.

Neville explained: “Hugh Quarshie played me in the first film, ‘The Murder of Stephen Lawrence’, in 1999, and also in ‘Stephen’.

“I sat here watching this new film and it was like me looking at myself,” he explained, adding: “My eyes filled with tears.

“You’re looking at it thinking, ‘That’s me.’ It’s like you are looking at yourself in a mirror. Hugh’s performance is outstanding.

“I had the pleasure of meeting him after the first film. He is a cool, no-nonsense person and portrays a character as if it’s him.”

“This new drama is brilliant. I give everyone involved my congratulations. They have all done a wonderful job,” he said.

Stephen’s father added: “A whole new generation of people need to know about the murder of my son and what followed after that.

“There are also other families who have gone through the same thing we went through all those years ago and are still going through [it].

“We need to remind them so people can try and understand a little bit about the pain that families like us and lots and lots of other families who have lost loved ones in similar situations have suffered and are still suffering.

“To see that we as a family was able to fight to try and get some kind of justice. I am glad this TV drama will remind people that you don’t give up.”

My eyes filled with tears

Neville Lawrence

“You continue to fight, no matter how long it is going to take,” Neville remarked, with Doreen and himself continuing their battle to this day.

Thursday April 22 has become known as Stephen Lawrence Day, in commemoration of the murder which took place at a bus stop in Eltham.

The day was created by The Stephen Lawrence Foundation to celebrate the youngster’s life and legacy despite no one being held accountable for this death.

Suspects were charged with Stephen’s death and only two were convicted as the others were dropped before an official trial could happen due to a lack of evidence to prove they murdered the young man.

In August 2020, the Metropolitan Police declared the investigation into Stephen’s death “inactive”, much to the dismay of his loved ones.

Explaining their decision, the MET said: “All identified lines of inquiry have been completed,” meaning no one could be taken to court unless the case is reopened one day.

Neville added: “After the film goes out I’m hoping somebody might come forward to help. Having seen that for all of these years my family has been suffering.

“And that only two of my son’s killers have been brought to justice and convicted. The others are still walking around free.”

“Maybe someone will see this drama and have some information that might lead to the reopening of the case. I am hopeful,” Neville added.

The handling of Stephen’s death is one of the most controversial in police history as his mother and father believed the case was handled differently because he was black.

In 1999, it was found the MET had been “institutionally racist” in their treatment of the murder, which in turn affected the outcome of the case.

All three episodes will air weekly, with Doreen played by Sharlene Whyte and DCI Clive Driscoll being portrayed by Steve Coogan, the man who wanted the case to be reopened.

Stephen begins tonight at 9pm on ITV. All episodes will be made available on the ITV Hub once the first episode has aired.

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