Doreen Lawrence: Government's racial disparities report gives ‘racists the green light’

Credit: PA

The mother of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence has condemned the government-backed review into racial disparities in the UK, saying the report gives "racists the green light".

Baroness Doreen Lawrence said its authors are "not in touch with reality".

The report, published on Wednesday by the independent Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, argued that the UK is no longer a country where the “system is deliberately rigged against ethnic minorities”.

Commissioned by the government in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests, its findings have been labelled as "disappointing", "worrying" and "lacking logic".

Responding to the criticism, the Prime Minister said more work needs to be done to tackle "very serious issues" of racism in the country.

Protesters in London’s Trafalgar Square during a Black Lives Matter rally. Credit: PA

Baroness Lawrence was made a peer in 2013 after campaigning for justice for her son, Stephen, who died in 1993 following a racially motivated attack in south-east London.

Speaking at a public event organised by De Montfort University Leicester’s (DMU) Stephen Lawrence Research Centre on Wednesday, she said: "When I first heard about the report my first thought was it has pushed [the fight against] racism back 20 years or more.

"I think if you were to speak to somebody whose employer speaks to them in a certain way, where do you go with that now? If a person is up for promotion and has been denied that, where does he go with that now?

People kneel during a Black Lives Matter protest rally at Windrush Square, Brixton last year. Credit: PA

"You know, all these things we’ve been working for and showing that structural racism exists – we talk about the pandemic when you look at how many of our people have died, all the nurses, the doctors, the frontline staff, of Covid, and to have this report denying that those people have suffered… they are denying that the likes of my son was murdered through racism and the fact that it took 18 years to get justice for him. The report is denying all those issues.

"Those people who marched for Black Lives Matter? It’s denying all of that. The George Floyd stuff? It’s denied all of that.

"So those who sit behind this report (saying) that racism doesn’t exist or it no longer exists need to speak to the young boys who are stopped and searched constantly on the street. They need to speak to those young people."

The team behind the report has been criticised for its close ties to Number 10.

Baroness Doreen Lawrence Credit: Ian West/PA Wire

Baroness Lawrence continued: "They (the report authors) are not in touch with reality basically. That’s what it boils down to. When you are privileged you do not have those experiences.

"My son was murdered because of racism and you cannot forget that. Once you start covering it up, it is giving the green light to racists.

"You imagine what’s going to happen come tomorrow. What’s going to happen on our streets with our young people? You are giving racists the green light."

  • Boris Johnson praises Samuel Kasumu following his resignation

Ministers have been facing a backlash over the report since its publication, with Boris Johnson’s most senior black adviser Samuel Kasumu quitting.

Number 10 insists, however, that his departure was "absolutely nothing to do" with the report.

Asked on Thursday about Mr Kasumu’s resignation, Mr Johnson said: "I worked very closely with Samuel in the last year or so and he’s done some great stuff.

"I thank him very much, particularly on helping to encourage vaccine take-up amongst more hesitant groups and communities."