The father of Stephen Lawrence has forgiven his son's racist murderers thanks to his Christian faith in what he said was the hardest decision of his lifetime ahead of the 25th anniversary of the killing.
The decision by Neville Lawrence, 76, came as it emerged yesterday that four retired Scotland Yard detectives who worked on the disastrous inquiry into Stephen's death could face criminal charges.
Stephen, 18, was stabbed by a gang of white racists in Eltham, south-east London, on April 22, 1993.
Neville Lawrence said: 'To be a Christian you have to forgive people for what they have done... So in order to be a Christian, I decided I am going to forgive all those people who were involved in my son's murder. [It] is one of the hardest decisions I have ever made, and I think it will be the hardest I will ever make in my lifetime.'
He continued: 'The fact that I had to lose my first child has been devastating. I can't begin to explain the pain and the anguish me and my family have suffered over the past 25 years.'
Two of the group of thugs who attacked the teenager and his friend, Duwayne Brooks, were convicted of murder in 2012. But while David Norris and Gary Dobson are both serving life sentences, the rest have evaded justice.
Lawrence named the five men suspected by many, saying: 'The people who were said to be involved in the murder of my son were Neil Acourt, Luke Knight, Gary Dobson, David Norris and Jamie Acourt.
The anniversary comes as London has seen a surge in violent crime in recent months, with nearly 60 murders in the capital so far this year.
Lawrence, who speaks to young people about the consequences of carrying a weapon, said: 'Right now with the violence, and the knife crime violence, it is urgent that I talk to these youngsters and explain to them the pain and suffering they inflict on families. It is a life sentence and something that will never be served. I've been serving a life sentence for the last 25 years and I will go on serving that until the day I die.'
He said that, in death, his aspiring architect son has become a 'legend', saying: 'When these boys killed my son, Stephen, they created a legend. In his death, Stephen is a legend. There is debate about racism, there are organisations set up to help to make people understand about racism. The police have been put under the spotlight because of Stephen's death.'
After a four-year investigation by the National Crime Agency, four former officers were found to have acted so negligently that they could face charges for 'misconduct in public office', an offence that carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Stephen's family has long suspected that corrupt officers working for the gangster Clifford Norris, the father of one of the men convicted of the murder, allowed the A-level student's killers to evade justice.
Dozens of individuals are known to have approached Scotland Yard to name the culprits within days of the killing, but it was several weeks before officers arrested anyone, allowing crucial evidence to be lost.
Lawrence and his former wife, who is now Baroness (Doreen) Lawrence, have campaigned for more than two decades to get justice for their son.
Baroness Lawrence has said she cannot forgive Stephen's killers, saying: 'You can only forgive somebody when they have shown remorse and accepted what they have done – and they haven't.'