Imran Khan

Primary tabs

Imran Khan is a celebrated human rights and criminal lawyer and is seen by many as an icon because of his representation of the Stephen Lawrence family followed the racist murder of Stephen in 1993.

He and the Lawrence family (particularly Doreen Lawrence, now Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon) have been in the limelight, both nationally and internationally for over 2 decades. The case not only made legal history but the fight for justice lasted almost two decades. Then, in the latest twist, in 2014, a new official inquiry was launched into claims of police corruption, which have long surrounded the case, and that the police had spied on the Lawrence family.

Today, Imran is the award-winning partner and Joint Head of Crime and Actions Against Police Departments at the London-based law firm Imran Khan & Partners. He is a Higher Rights Advocate (HRA), appearing at the Old Bailey and other Crown Courts and regularly leads cases involving murder, terrorism and other serious offences.

Whilst Imran’s name is still inextricably linked to Stephen Lawrence, he has also represented many others in high-profile cases. These cases included that of the Asian teenager Zahid Mubarek, who was beaten to death by a fellow cellmate at a young offenders’ institution (a known violent and racist prisoner who revered the killers of Stephen Lawrence). Imran also represented the family of Victoria Climbie, the nine-year-old child who died following systemic and horrendous abuse by her aunt and her aunt’s lover.

Back in 1993, when Imran was first contacted about Stephen’s murder in south London, he was a little-known solicitor practising at JR Jones Solicitors in Ealing, west London, who had qualified less than two years earlier. He has described the approach by Stephen’s family as the “defining aspect” of his existence, which was to have a tremendous impact on him professionally and personally. Imran left JR Jones to set up Imran Khan & Partners, based in Holborn, Central London, in 2000.

Contrary to many reports, the Stephen Lawrence case started, not as a complaint against the police, but as a request for information by the Lawrences about the death of their 19-year-old son. Imran’s first letter to the police specifically requested information on the Lawrence family’s behalf but he was stonewalled and the police failed to properly respond to the request. It was not until 1997 after the Inquest into Stephen Lawrence’s death that a complaint was filed.

As no charges were brought against anyone for Stephen’s murder, the Lawrence family, with the help of Imran and Michael Mansfield QC, brought Britain's first private prosecution for a racist murder (and the fourth ever private prosecution for murder) which collapsed. However, pressure from the family resulted in the government setting up the inquiry that resulted in the Macpherson Report published on 24 February 1998.

In his report, Lord Macpherson cited "institutionalised racism” in the police force and the report resulted in unprecedented apologies, procedural changes and also vindication for the Lawrences in their unrelenting pursuit for justice. The double jeopardy rule was also changed, which made a second prosecution possible and ended in the convictions in January 2012 of two men who had denied murdering Stephen.

The latest inquiry by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) will centre on the former detective sergeant John Davidson, who was a key officer in the botched murder investigation. This follows an independent review by Mark Ellison QC, who was commissioned by Home Secretary Theresa May.

Imran told The Guardian newspaper of his reaction after seeing the review in Theresa May’s office: “It was shocking to read it," says Khan. "A shock in the sense of a victim seeing someone acknowledge what has happened to them; in the sense of, finally, someone gets it. Finally, someone in authority has matched it all up, drawn it all out and given a conclusion I always knew to be the case," he said.

Both Imran and Doreen were honoured for their contribution to justice at the 2012 Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year (LALY) awards. Imran was presented with an Outstanding Achievement award and Doreen, the first non-lawyer to receive such an accolade, received the LALY 10th Anniversary Special Award. In addition, Imran was named as one of the Times Law 100 most influential judges and lawyers of 2012.

See Also: 
the Legal History and The Solicitors sections.