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Former BFP reporter wins award for Stephen Lawrence campaign
A FORMER Bucks Free Press reporter has been honoured with a national award for the extensive work he did on the Stephen Lawrence case.
Stephen Wright received The Paul Foot Award 2012 for a Special Campaign from Private Eye for 15 years of reporting on the Stephen Lawrence murder investigation.
He also spearheaded the Daily Mail's Justice for Stephen campaign. The Daily Mail reporter worked at the BFP from 1987 to 1989 and said these were amongst the happiest years in his career.
He said he was greatly honoured to receive the award, which he picked up on Tuesday.
BFP editor Steve Cohen said: "I only worked with Steve for a short while after I joined in 1989 but I could tell he was a special talent even back then."
Stephen first reported on Stephen Lawrence, who was murdered in 1993 in a racist attack, in February 1997, when he carried extensive research into what was then a relatively low-profile unsolved murder in south-east London.
Since then, he has spearheaded the Daily Mail’s Justice for Stephen campaign that has seen him continue to cover the Lawrence story right through to the recent trial of two of the original suspects, Gary Dobson and David Norris, and heading a comprehensive 20-page background on the case when the proceedings ended in January 2012.
His initial investigation led to Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre famously branding the suspects "Murderers" in February 1997. Fifteen years’ dogged reporting on the case followed, with Stephen securing a number of scoops, and breaking significant stories to keep the case in the public eye.
This included reporting on the racist and violent pasts of the suspects and on police blunders, which led to the then Home Secretary Jack Straw ordering a public inquiry.
Stephen highlighted the need for double jeopardy laws to be reformed to allow three of Stephen Lawrence’s alleged killers (who had been acquitted) to stand trial again if new evidence emerged.
Notable scoops included reporting on a police watchdog report that found conclusive evidence of police errors which allowed Stephen Lawrence’s killers to escape justice; a jury nobbling scandal involving one of the suspects, when he was controversially acquitted of murdering another man; revealing how a draft copy of the judge-led inquiry alleged the Lawrence murder probe was hampered by racism across virtually all the ranks; and naming and shaming the officers who escaped discipline proceedings over the bungled Lawrence murder probe.
Over the following years, Stephen broke several other highly significant stories on the Lawrence case, including the £320,000 compensation pay-out to Stephen Lawrence’s parents and the forensic breakthrough in 2007 which prompted the trial of Dobson and Norris. In order not to jeopardise the case the Daily Mail did not publish what would have been the biggest story of them all – the decision to charge David Norris and Gary Dobson with murder, in September 2010.