Last week’s horrifying trial of three Asians is part of a worrying trend, says Brendan Montague
No one who saw Angela Donald giving her dignified statement that “justice had been done” outside the High Court in Edinburgh as the racist murderers of her 15-year-old son were jailed last week could feel anything but sympathy. For Margaret Massey there was more, though—a sense of fellow-feeling and anger.
Kriss Donald was snatched off the street by an Asian gang and subjected to a terrible ordeal: beaten, stabbed, doused in petrol and set ablaze. Massey’s son Lee, a rugby player, was also the subject of a racially motivated attack when he was set upon by a gang of Iraqi asylum seekers “out looking for someone” to hurt.
He and two friends were stabbed in a car park in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, in October 2003. Lee was then thrown into the air and suffered devastating brain injuries when one of the gang used a car to run him down. Three years later he has not fully recovered.
Massey still feels aggrieved that—in her view—the police inquiry was hindered by political correctness because officers feared that reporting that a white man had been so brutally attacked by asylum seekers would further fuel racial tensions following several such brawls in the area.
“The police didn’t charge 13 members of the gang even though I believe there was some evidence,” she says.
“If our Lee had run over one of the Iraqis he would have been arrested right away and sent to prison for the rest of his life. The police are nervous when white people are attacked. In this area this is happening more and more often.”
The killing of Stephen Lawrence 13 years ago sparked off an orgy of soul-searching throughout liberal Britain.
But we have never quite acknowledged that violence comes from both sides. Gavin Hopley, 19, was kicked to death by up to eight Asian men in Oldham in February 2002. Six men were convicted of violent disorder and theft offences but no one has been convicted of his murder.
An Asian gang was also responsible for the violent killing of 17-year-old Ross Parker, who was savagely stabbed with hunting knives during an attack in Peterborough in 2001. David Lees, 23, was run over and killed during a fight between whites and a gang of Asians in Prestwich, Manchester, only last month.
There has been numerous inquiries and new legislation since the Lawrence case and almost everyone concerned with race relations will confirm that policing in cases involving race has improved immeasurably since that tragic event.
However, the debate about the white victims of racist attacks seems to have progressed no further in the past 10 years—because of fears of “political correctness” and the threat of the far right making political capital out of personal tragedy.
Sir Ian Blair, Britain’s most senior police officer, even attacked the press as “institutionally racist” in January this year because cases such as the killing of Tom ap Rhys Pryce, the solicitor, had gained more publicity than the equally terrible death on the same day of Balbir Matharu, who had tried to stop thieves ripping the radio from his car.
An extensive search of national and regional newspaper reports, however, shows that cases involving black and minority ethnic victims are widely reported, while there is an almost total boycott of stories involving the white victims of similar attacks. Is this because newspapers fear their reports appearing on BNP leaflets, or because the police are less likely to issue appeals for help?
Peter Fahy, chief constable of Cheshire police and spokesman on race issues for the Association of Chief Police Officers, said: “A lot of police officers and other professionals feel almost the best thing to do is to try and avoid [discussing such attacks] for fear of being criticised. This is not healthy.”
The silence means it is impossible to know how many white people are victims of racist attacks in today’s multicultural Britain and whether they are right to feel aggrieved that the attacks they suffer do not appear to get the same recognition as those of black victims.