Police probe new clue in Stephen Lawrence murder

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LONDON, Nov 8 (Reuters) Police said today they are examining new forensic evidence relating to the racist murder of teenager Stephen Lawrence after a report suggested the five main suspects may be re-arrested.

Scotland Yard said experts using new technology uncovered a possible forensic breakthrough during one of the force's regular reviews of the unsolved murder.

The 18-year-old was stabbed to death by a gang of white youths at a bus stop in Eltham, southeast London in 1993.

The case sparked a public outcry after police failed to prosecute the suspected killers and a damning report accused officers of incompetence and ''institutional racism''.

In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said the teenager's family, doctors and the emergency services at the murder scene will undergo DNA tests to eliminate them from the new line of inquiry.

Experts found fibres on Lawrence's clothes that are thought to have come from his killers, according to an unconfirmed report in Thursday's Daily Mail.

Fibres from the teenager's garments were also found on clothes thought to have been worn by his killers, the report said. Police would not comment on the report and gave no more details of the new evidence.

Lawrence's father Neville said he hoped the new evidence would lead to arrests.

''I have been waiting for 14 years, so I won't get my hopes up,'' he told the Daily Telegraph. ''It sounds fantastic news.'' No one has ever been convicted over the killing.

Three men -- Neil Acourt, Gary Dobson and Luke Knight -- were acquitted of murder in 1996 after a private prosecution brought by the Lawrence family collapsed.

The case against two others, Jamie Acourt and David Norris, was dropped before it reached court. All five men have repeatedly denied any involvement in the murder.

In 2004, the Crown Prosecution Service said a five-year review had not produced enough evidence to bring new charges.

In 2005, the double jeopardy rule, which prevented a suspect being tried twice for the same offence, was repealed which means all five could face trial again.

REUTERS MS RN1452

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