PROTECT THE MURDER TRIAL WITNESSES OR YOU'LL NEVER GET A CONVICTION AGAIN; EXCLUSIVE Lawrence Pal Calls for IDs to Be Secret to Cut Reprisals Now Jack Straw Vows to Push an Emergency Law into Force

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Byline: BY RYAN PARRY

THE best friend of Stephen Lawrence yesterday backed emergency laws to protect the identities of witnesses in serious court cases.

Murder, terror and other serious trials were thrown into chaos when Law Lords ruled defendants had a right to know who was testifying against them.

But Justice Secretary Jack Straw yesterday told MPs new laws protecting their anonymity will be pushed through Parliament before its summer break.

Duwayne Brooks, who was with 18-year-old Stephen the night he was murdered in South London 15 years ago, testified in a private prosecution against three of the men accused of the killing.

Welcoming the announcement, Duwayne said: "This is good news. Witnesses will only come forward if they feel safe and if they don't, crimes will not get solved. If you believe you are safe you will have confidence."

Recalling his own harrowing experience, he said: "When I gave evidence I didn't want to be identified but I didn't have a choice.

"I had to stand up in front of them in court and say what happened and it was a frightening experience. Everyone knew my name and where I lived so people could come up to you in the street. There was talk about reprisals and they can happen at any time.

"It changes your life. I know how it feels to be a witness in a murder trial. If the Government doesn't act there is never going to be a murder conviction again."

Duwayne, 33, spoke out after we revealed a former prisoner had told police that David Norris, one of the men who was suspected of involvement in Stephen's killing, told him he was at the murder and knew what happened to the weapon. …