Posted on May 1, 2020

Sir Keir Starmer Tasks Stephen Lawrence’s Baroness Mother with Leading Review into the Impact of Coronavirus on BAME Communities

Jack Elsom, Daily Mail, April 24, 2020

Stephen Lawrence’s mother will lead Labour’s investigation into the disproportionate impact of coronavirus on BAME communities.

Sir Keir Starmer has tasked Baroness Doreen Lawrence, whose son Stephen was killed in a racist attack 27 years ago this week, to drill down into troubling trends emerging in the epidemic.

Figures from the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre suggests 34.5 per cent of critically ill patients were from the BAME community.

This is despite 10.8 per cent of the population being black or Asian, according to the 2011 census.

NHS England also published statistics that revealed BAME persons accounted for 16.2 per cent of deaths.

A significant proportion of the more than 80 NHS workers who have died with coronavirus are from BAME backgrounds.

Labour peer Baroness Lawrence said: ‘I am proud to take up this role at a critical moment for our country.

‘The coronavirus pandemic has brought society together, but it has also exposed the gulf in living standards that still blights our communities.

‘Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities have long been disadvantaged by the social and economic injustice which still exists in our country.

‘There is a clear and tragic pattern emerging of the pandemic’s impact on those communities which must be better understood.’

Since her son 18-year-old son Stephen was stabbed to death on April 22, 1993, Baroness Lawrence has campaigned tireless and successfully for long-term reform of the justice system.

Her and husband Neville’s tooth-and-nail fight for justice after charges against her son’s killers were initially dropped saw her become a high-profile defender or racial equality – Nelson Mandela even met her in London in the aftermath of Stephen’s murder.

Stephen’s death, and the controversial police investigation, became a watershed moment in British race relations and led to the Metropolitan Police being publicly damned as ‘institutionally racist’.

Baroness Lawrence new role began with discussion with Labour colleagues and experts including the British Medical Association’s chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul on Friday morning.

Muslim Council of Britain general secretary Harun Khan, the Sikh Network’s Jas Khatkar and Operation Black Vote founder Lord Woolley also took part.

Sir Keir, who appointed Baroness Lawrence the party’s race relations adviser, said: ‘It is extremely concerning to see the disproportionate toll coronavirus is taking on our BAME communities.

‘We cannot afford to treat this as an issue to investigate once the crisis is over. We must address it now.’

The NHS and Public Health England are also undertaking a review into the concerns.

The government’s review is being spearheaded by Sir Trevor Phillips, the former chair of the equality and human rights commission.

Editor’s Note: See the related AR video below: