Doreen Lawrence

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The Baroness Lawrence
of Clarendon

Official portrait of Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon crop 2, 2019.jpg
Chancellor of De Montfort University
In office
22 January 2016 – 31 January 2020
Vice-ChancellorDominic Shellard
Andy Collop (interim)
Preceded byThe Lord Alli
Succeeded byVacant
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
Assumed office
15 October 2013
Life Peerage
Personal details
Doreen Delceita Graham

(1952-10-24) 24 October 1952 (age 68)
Clarendon, Colony of Jamaica
Political partyLabour
Neville Lawrence
(m. 1972; div. 1999)
Alma materUniversity of Greenwich

Doreen Delceita Lawrence, Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon, OBE (née Graham; born 1952) is a British Jamaican campaigner and the mother of Stephen Lawrence, a black British teenager who was murdered in a racist attack in South East London in 1993. She promoted reforms of the police service and founded the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust. She was appointed to the Order of the British Empire for services to community relations in 2003, and was created a Life Peer in 2013.

On the first national Stephen Lawrence Day on 22 April 2019, she described how she had worked for 26 years hoping for "an inclusive society for everyone to live their best life, regardless of gender, race, sexuality, religion, disability or background".[2]

Early and personal life[edit]

Lawrence was born in Clarendon, Jamaica in 1952.[3][4] At the age of nine, she emigrated to England. She completed her education in south-east London, before becoming a bank worker. In 1972, she married Neville Lawrence. Together they had three children: Stephen (13 September 1974 – 22 April 1993); Stuart, born in 1977; and Georgina, born in 1982.[5] The couple divorced in 1999.[6]

Murder of Stephen Lawrence[edit]

Following the murder of their son Stephen in 1993, Doreen and Neville Lawrence claimed that the Metropolitan Police investigation was not being conducted in a professional manner, citing incompetence and racism as prime flaws.[7] In 1999, after years of campaigning, and with the support of many in the community, the media[8] and politics, a wide-ranging judicial inquiry was established by Jack Straw, the Home Secretary. Chaired by Sir William MacPherson, the inquiry was to investigate the circumstances of Stephen Lawrence's death. The public inquiry was the subject of intense media interest which became international when it concluded that the Metropolitan Police was "institutionally racist"[9] and that this was one of the primary causes of their failure to solve the case.

Public life[edit]

In the aftermath of the inquiry, Lawrence continued to campaign for justice for her son as well as for other victims of racist crime. She has worked to secure further reforms of the police service. In 2003 she was awarded the OBE[10][11] for services to community relations.

She founded the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust[12] to promote a positive community legacy in her son's name. Lawrence has been selected to sit on panels within the Home Office[13] and the police, and she is a member of both the board and the council of Liberty,[14] the human rights organisation, as well as being a patron of hate crime charity Stop Hate UK.[15]

In 1998, she worked with the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Marco Goldschmied Foundation to establish the Stephen Lawrence Prize, an annual prize and bursary for younger architects.[16]

In August 2014, Lawrence was one of 200 public figures who were signatories to a letter to The Guardian opposing Scottish independence in the run-up to September's referendum on that issue.[17]

In April 2020, she was appointed as race relations advisor to the Labour Party.[18]


In October 2019, Lawrence attracted criticism for her on-camera remarks concerning the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy made during an interview with Channel 4 News.[19][20][21][22] She was quoted as saying: "Had that been a block full of white people in there, they would have done everything to get them out as fast as possible and make sure that they do what they needed to do."[23] A public petition was raised demanding an apology.[23][24] She later apologised for her remarks.[23][25]


On 27 July 2012, Lawrence took part in the 2012 Olympic opening ceremony, holding the Olympic flag with seven others.

In October 2012, she received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 14th Pride of Britain Awards.[26]

In April 2014, she was named as Britain's most influential woman in the BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour Power List 2014.[4]

In May 2014, Lawrence was awarded the Grassroot Diplomat Initiative Award under the Social Driver category for her extensive work with the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust.[27]

Lawrence was elevated to the peerage as a life peer on 6 September 2013, as Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon, of Clarendon in the Commonwealth Realm of Jamaica;[28] the honour is rare for being designated after a location in a Commonwealth realm outside the United Kingdom.[29] She sits on the Labour benches in the House of Lords as a working peer.[30]

She has been awarded honorary doctorates from the University of Cambridge,[31] the Open University and the University of West London. She served as Chancellor of De Montfort University, Leicester from 2016 to 2020.[32]

Popular culture[edit]

Chris Ofili's 1998 painting No Woman No Cry is a portrait of Doreen Lawrence crying; in each tear is an image of her son Stephen. It was part of Ofili's Turner Prize exhibition, and now hangs in the Tate Gallery.[33]

In 1999, she was portrayed by actress Marianne Jean-Baptiste in the ITV docudrama The Murder of Stephen Lawrence.[34] In 2000, Doreen Lawrence was featured in a double portrait exhibited at the Stephen Lawrence Gallery in Greenwich, London.[35]

Lawrence was the guest subject on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs on 10 June 2012.[1]

Sons Of Kemet dedicated the song "Your Queen Is A Reptile" to Lawrence among others.[36]


  1. ^ a b "Doreen Lawrence". Desert Island Discs. 10 June 2012. BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  2. ^ Lawrence, Doreen (22 April 2019). "Doreen Lawrence". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
  3. ^ Lawrence, Doreen (2007). And still I rise. Margaret Busby. London: Faber. ISBN 0-571-23459-3. OCLC 72868322.
  4. ^ a b "Woman's Hour Power List 2014: 1: Doreen Lawrence". BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 20 April 2021.
  5. ^ Malik, Shiv; Sandra Laville (9 January 2013). "Stephen Lawrence's brother lodges racism complaint against Met police | UK news". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
  6. ^ "Lawrence parents divorce", BBC Online, 9 July 1999.
  7. ^ "Lawrence mother calls police 'racist'". BBC News. 11 June 1998. Retrieved 8 August 2011.
  8. ^ Hoge, Warren (18 February 1997), "Racial Killing Bursts a British Press Taboo", The New York Times,
  9. ^ "The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry". 24 February 1999. Retrieved 8 August 2011.
  10. ^ "Fighting on: Neville and Doreen Lawrence". BBC News. 31 December 2002. Retrieved 8 August 2011.
  11. ^ "No. 56797". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2002. p. 11.
  12. ^ "Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust – Registered Charity Number: 1102267". Archived from the original on 13 February 2012. Retrieved 6 January 2012.
  13. ^ "Police: Stop and Search — Question". 6 May 2009. Retrieved 8 August 2011.
  14. ^ Wintour, Patrick (31 July 2013). "Doreen Lawrence to be made a Labour peer". The Guardian.
  15. ^ Stop Hate UK official website.
  16. ^ "How the Stephen Lawrence Prize was founded". The Stephen Lawrence Prize. Retrieved 5 March 2021.
  17. ^ "Celebrities' open letter to Scotland – full text and list of signatories | Politics". The Guardian. 7 August 2014. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
  18. ^ "Keir Starmer appoints Doreen Lawrence as race relations adviser". The Labour Party. 24 April 2020. Retrieved 24 April 2020.
  19. ^ Doreen Lawrence says Grenfell tragedy was linked to racism Channel 4 News, 17 October 2019. Retrieved 11 November 2019
  20. ^ Stephen Lawrence's mother claims firefighters tackling Grenfell Tower blaze were 'racist' The Telegraph, 20 October 2019. Retrieved 11 November 2019
  21. ^ FBU responds to Baroness Lawrence’s racism allegations on Channel 4 News, 18 October 2019. Retrieved 11 November 2019
  22. ^ Peer resists calls to apologise for saying firefighters at Grenfell were ‘racist’ Metro, 24 October 2019. Retrieved 11 November 2019
  23. ^ a b c Baroness Lawrence Apologises After Claiming Race Played A Part In Grenfell Tower Inferno EuroWeekly News, 1 November 2019. Retrieved 11 November 2019
  24. ^ Grenfell survivors fear inquiry judge will side with establishment The Guardian, 26 October 2019. Retrieved 11 November 2019
  25. ^ Doreen Lawrence apology for 'any upset caused' over Grenfell Tower response after meeting with firefighters The Yorkshire Post, 29 October 2019. Retrieved 11 November 2019
  26. ^ "Doreen Lawrence honoured". ITV News. 30 October 2012. Retrieved 31 October 2012.
  27. ^ "Grassroot Diplomat Who's Who". Grassroot Diplomat. 15 March 2015. Archived from the original on 20 May 2015. Retrieved 27 April 2015.
  28. ^ "No. 60624". The London Gazette. 11 September 2013. p. 17949.
  29. ^ Siva, Vivienne (25 October 2013). "Jamaican Born Civil Rights Campaigner Appointed to British House of Lords". Jamaican Information Service.
  30. ^ "Working peerages announced", Press release,, 1 August 2013.
  31. ^ "Cambridge confers 2019 honorary degrees". University of Cambridge. 19 June 2019. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  32. ^ "Baroness Doreen Lawrence's four-year tenure as Chancellor comes to an end". De Montfort University Leicester. 27 January 2020. Retrieved 23 March 2020.
  33. ^ Higgins, Charlotte (25 January 2010). "Chris Ofili: A journey from elephant art to mother nature's son". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 August 2011.
  34. ^ "The Murder of Stephen Lawrence (1999)", IMDb.
  35. ^ "Remembering Stephen Lawrence: Doreen Lawrence Unveils New Double Portrait at University of Greenwich" Archived 23 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine University of Greenwich press release, 15 May 2000.
  36. ^ "Sons of Kemet | SHABAKA HUTCHINGS".

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