PROTECT THE MURDER TRIAL WITNESSES OR YOU'LL NEVER GET A CONVICTION AGAIN; EXCLUSIVE Lawrence Pal in Call for IDs to Be Kept a Secret to Cut out Reprisals Now Jack Straw Vows to Push an Emergency Law into Force Next Month
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: "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. It was very frightening. Everyone knew my name and everyone knew where I lived, so people could come up in the street. There was lots of talk about reprisals and they can happen at any time. It changes your life. If the Government doesn't act there is never going to be a murder conviction again. …