Stephen Lawrence, aged 18, was stabbed to death in an unprovoked attack by a gang of white youths as he waited at a bus stop in Eltham, south-east London on 22 April 1993.
In 1997, the then Home Secretary Jack Straw ordered a public inquiry to be led by Sir William Macpherson, into ‘matters arising from the death of Stephen Lawrence’.The report was published and presented to the Government in February 1999, who received it and endorsed its 72 recommendations. Amongst these was a proposal to change the double-jeopardy rule.
The Government, on receiving the report, endorsed the recommendations within. Subsequently not only Police Services across the country, but also other public and private institutions – including the Church of England – committed themselves to an examination and improvement of their own attitudes and practices.
In 2007, Dr Sentamu awarded an anti-slavery medallion to the Lord Chancellor Jack Straw. He said: "The medallion is a small token of my gratitude to Jack Straw for his agreement to set up a judicial inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence". The medallion, a copy of one made by Josiah Wedgwood, two hundred years ago, as a symbol for the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade features a slave bound in chains and surrounded by the words, "Am I not a Man and a brother?".
In April 2013, the Archbishop wrote a tribute to Stephen Lawrence to mark the 20th anniversary of Stephen’s death, published in the Yorkshire Post.