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The Real Life Cases That Inspired The Lawrence Christopher Line Of Duty Storyline

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The Real Life Cases That Inspired The Lawrence Christopher Line Of Duty Storyline

The latest episode of BBC One's gripping corrupt cop series Line Of Duty shed light on issues as a result of institutional racism within the police force - and has made reference to two horrific crimes that took place in real life.

In Sunday night's episode, Officer Chloe Bishop (played by Shalom Brune-Franklin) discussed the case of Lawrence Christopher - a Black man who was victim of an unprovoked attack by a group of white thugs at a railway station.

Chloe Bishop discussed a racist case that resembled two real life crimes (Credit: BBC)
Chloe Bishop discussed a racist case that resembled two real life crimes (Credit: BBC)

The police were called, with officers assuming the attack was linked to gang activity - and instead took heavily beaten Lawrence, an aspiring architect, into police custody.

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Chloe continues that Lawrence died in his jail cell from an untreated skull fracture. While he lay dying, he was mocked and jeered by police officers who made monkey noises at him.

Line of Duty referenced two prominent cases with Lawrence (Credit: BBC)
Line of Duty referenced two prominent cases with Lawrence (Credit: BBC)

The case was dismissed, and all suspects were released without charge. The police officers in question were found not guilty on misconduct charges - and said the "stress" of the situation pushed them into an early retirement. A visibly shaken and upset Chloe added that the officers received substantial pay outs as well as hefty police pensions.

Fans were quick to notice the similarities (Credit: Twitter)
Fans were quick to notice the similarities (Credit: Twitter)
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Fans were quick to draw similarities between Christopher Lawrence with both Stephen Lawrence and Christopher Alder cases, taking to Twitter to discuss their thoughts.

"That was a powerful tribute to Stephen Lawrence and Christopher Alder," wrote one person.

"Christopher Lawrence was a deliberate choice of name," said a second.

The Stephen Lawrence Case

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Stephen Lawrence's murder is one of the UK's most notorious racially motivated crimes (Credit: PA/Met Police)
Stephen Lawrence's murder is one of the UK's most notorious racially motivated crimes (Credit: PA/Met Police)

One of the UK's most notoriously racially motivated crimes, 18-year-old Stephen Lawrence was murdered on 22nd April 1993 by a gang of white men as he waited for a bus in Eltham, London.

Stephen, who was hoping to study architecture, was stabbed several times before he bled to death.

When the police arrived on the scene, they first questioned Stephen's friend Duwayne Brooks, who was with the teen at the time - and only really believed his version of events after several witnesses came forward corroborating what he said.

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There were numerous tips made to police about five suspects from a local gang - but it took officers two weeks before arrests were made.

The Crown Prosecution Service ruled there was 'insufficient evidence' to charge the five suspects. Stephen's family then launched a private prosecution, which saw three suspects being acquitted.

There was national outcry at the ruling, and in 1997, an inquest was launched into Stephen's death - which ruled he has died in an unprovoked and racially motivated attack.

Gary Dobson and David Norris were found guilty in 2012 (Credit: PA Images)
Gary Dobson and David Norris were found guilty in 2012 (Credit: PA Images)
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Stephen's death also prompted the Macpherson Report in 1998, which found that the investigation into Stephen's death faced 'institutional racism and a failure of leadership' and gave over 70 recommendations in a bid to reform police attitudes.

In 2012, after a repeal of the double jeopardy law, David Norris and Gary Dobson were found guilty of Stephen's murder and jailed for life. Two other suspects that were accused of Stephen's murder have since been imprisoned for drug dealing. One still remains free.

The aftermath of Stephen's murder highlighted the extent to which British society was still prejudiced and racist towards Black people.

Theresa May with both of Stephen Lawrence's parents in 2018 (Credit: PA Images)
Theresa May with both of Stephen Lawrence's parents in 2018 (Credit: PA Images)

Stephen's mother, Doreen Lawrence, has become a prominent campaigner for equality since his death. When then-Prime Minister Theresa May declared that April 22nd every year shall be 'Stephen Lawrence Day', Doreen said at the time that 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."

Line of Duty's veiled reference to his murder comes at a particularly poignant time, with the 28th anniversary of his death coming up this week on April 22nd.

The Christopher Alder Case

Christopher Alder died in police custody (Credit: Fair Use)
Christopher Alder died in police custody (Credit: Fair Use)

Paratrooper Christopher Alder was just 37 when he died in police custody.

In 1998, Christopher was a victim of an assault at a pub in Hull, where he cracked his head on the curb after being punched. While Christopher was first taken to hospital, his behaviour (possibly due to his head injury) was described as "extremely troublesome". He was then arrested by police and was "partially dragged and partially carried" to custody.

While Christopher lay on the floor of the suite, officers were captured on tape mocking him and making monkey noises, as well as discussing whether Christopher was faking or exaggerating the extent of his injuries.

Later, an officer noticed that Christopher was not breathing and tried to resuscitate him - but Christopher was pronounced dead at the scene.

Christopher Alder served in the Falklands War (Credit: Fair Use)
Christopher Alder served in the Falklands War (Credit: Fair Use)

In 2000, coroners ruled that Christopher had been unlawfully killed and five police officers were tried for manslaughter and misconduct - but all five were acquitted after a judge found them not guilty.

Four of the police officers were granted early retirement on stress-related medical grounds and received lump-sum compensation payments of between £44,000 and £66,000 on top of their pensions.

This is not the first time Line of Duty has used real life crimes as inspiration. The series has pointed towards Operation Yewtree, the investigation into the Jimmy Savile sexual abuse allegations on multiple occasions. Fans have also commented on the similarities between the murder of Gail Vella, and the real life murder of journalist Jill Dando, in this series.

Featured Image Credit: BBC

Topics: True Crime, BBC, TV News, TV & Film, Real Life, Line of Duty

Kimberley Bond
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