Nine years after the Mail's explosive front page named Stephen Lawrence's killers and moved the conscience of the nation, is there hope of justice at last?

Throughout those years, the five savage thugs who murdered this bright, aspirational teenager in an unprovoked racist attack have laughed at the law. Police have got nowhere. The courts have been helpless.

Everything that could go wrong has gone wrong. The depth of police incompetence beggars belief. The Macpherson inquiry found 'institutionalised racism'. And the whiff of corruption was never far away.

Now the BBC raises the issue of corruption again. In a laudable piece of journalism, it claims one of the investigating officers was in the pay of the criminal Clifford Norris - father of one of the killers - and suppressed vital evidence.

Last night's programme also raises fresh doubts about the thugs' alibis.

Yet are these developments - now being examined by the Independent Police Complaints Commission - really enough to bring murder charges? With great sadness, we have our doubts.

When the claims of corruption come from a bent copper who kept silent until now and the alibis were obviously fake anyway, we fear no new trial will occur unless new witnesses speak out.

We profoundly hope we are wrong. But until someone is pricked by conscience, the travesty of justice in the Stephen Lawrence case is likely to remain an indelible blot on Britain's reputation.

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