A FRIEND of Stephen Lawrence who was with the teenager the night he was murdered has been elected to Lewisham council.

Duwayne Brooks was elected along with fellow Liberal Democrat Jenni Clutten in last night’s Downham by-election.

Cllr Brooks says he decided to become a councillor because of the high profile he has had since his friend was murdered in Eltham in 1993.

He said: "I'm a very well known person in the borough because of what happened. So many people trust me and always came to me for help and information.

"But it came to a point where I thought I need to do a bit more, and one way was to become a councillor.

"As a councillor I would have a much stronger voice that would be amplified in the council.

Not surprisingly Cllr Brooks feels strongly about knife crime and the way it is dealt with by police.

He said: "I want to tackle knife crime in the borough by working alongside the police.

"But in Lewisham I believe there's much room for improvement with the way they treat stop and search victims.

"If someone is stopped and searched for carrying a knife then that's what they should be arrested for and nothing else."

He added: "I have lots of issues with stop and search. For years I was harrassed by the police and I don't think they have improved.”

Cllr Brooks’ experience has lead him to question whether police attitudes have changed much since the Macpherson inquiry following Stephen Lawrence’s murder concluded the Met was “institutionally racist”.

He said: "If they haven't changed from the 1980s how can they change now? There's always going to be racism.

"As a citizen of Lewisham I want to be able to travel in the borough safely no matter what and regardless of my colour.

"If that means extra patrols of PCSOs then that's what we should do."

Mr Brooks and Ms Clutten were elected to Lewisham Council after gaining 1067 and 1075 votes respectively.

The by-election was called after Liberal Democrat councillors Mark Morris and Simon Carter stepped down in January.