Boris Johnson spoke yesterday at St Martin-in-the-Fields near Trafalgar Square at the service to mark the 20th anniversary of the murder in south east London. It was attended by the Stephen’s family and friends, as well as senior politicians and campaigners.
The first candle was lit by Mrs Lawrence and her surviving son Stuart and dedicated to building hope in the memory of Stephen.
Prime Minister David Cameron read Our Last Awakening by John Donne. The Labour leader Ed Miliband and Home Secretary Theresa May also gave readings.
Mr Johnson paid tribute to the Lawrence family’s fight for justice and said it was their courage that had brought a positive change in public attitude.
“On a dark street in Eltham 20 years ago there took place a crime that caused shock and pain, and disbelief, and outrage. And it was left to those who had suffered the greatest pain and loss, the family of Stephen Lawrence, to search for the truth and for justice,” he said. “It is thanks to Doreen and of course to Stephen too, because it was the campaign for justice in his name that became the blueprint for change. Out of that dark night 20 years ago has come great hope, and it is in a spirit of hope for London, the greatest city on earth, that we remember Stephen Lawrence.”
Stephen, 18, was waiting at a bus stop with a friend when he was attacked by a racist gang and stabbed to death on April 22, 1993.
Mrs Lawrence and her former husband Neville fought for justice for nearly 19 years. Two of the killers – David Norris and Gary Dobson – were jailed in January last year. The couple faced institutional racism in the police, as well as incompetence.
Stephen was buried in a secluded plot in Jamaica, where his father Neville yesterday laid flowers.
Police stress the murder investigation is still “live”.