DCI Clive Driscoll: who is the Stephen Lawrence investigator played by Steve Coogan in ITV drama Stephen?

DCI Driscoll, alongside Stephen’s parents, fought to bring two of Stephen Lawrence’s murderers to justice
DCI Clive Driscoll DCI Clive Driscoll
DCI Clive Driscoll

ITV is airing the first of a three-part drama which tells the story of DCI Clive Driscoll and his attempts to achieve justice for Stephen Lawrence.

Stephen follows on from the channel’s award-winning 1999 film, The Murder of Stephen Lawrence,and the final fight to convict the gang of white men who killed the black 18 year old in April 1993.

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The series was  directed by Alrick Riley and written by Frank and Joe Cottrell Boyce, based on the book In Pursuit of the Truth (2015) by DCI Clive Driscoll.

So, who is DCI Driscoll  and what role did he have to play in the trial of Stephen’s murderers? This is what you need to know.

Who is DCI Clive Driscoll?

DCI Driscoll was born in Battersea, Wandsworth, on 3 May 1951 and aged 20, he began his career for the Metropolitan Police as a constable in Sutton.

He is best known for his relentless attempts to secure a conviction for the murder of London teenager Stephen Lawrence, who was killed when he was the victim of an unprovoked attack at a bus stop in Eltham, South London.

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Driscoll has solved a number of high profile crimes throughout his career, before senior officers forced him to retire in 2014.

He overtook Lawrence’s case in 2006, working alongside Stephen’s parents Doreen and Neville, and ultimately achieved the conviction of two of the gang members who killed Stephen.

What other titles did he hold throughout his career?

Driscoll’s efforts to achieve justice for Stephen Lawrence took place towards the end of his service, when he served as detective chief inspector and senior investigating officer with the Met’s Racial and Violent Crime Task Force.

He was given the role in 2003, three years before the series is set and two years before English law abolished the ‘double jeopardy’ rule which previously prohibited someone charged with a crime from being tried twice.

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After serving as a constable in Sutton from 1971, he was promoted to a sergeant and headed to Brixton in 1985 where he formed one of the force’s first domestic violence units in 1987.

In 1992, he moved to New Scotland Yard - home of the Met - to head up policy for the Sexual Offences, Domestic Violence, Child Protection and the Paedophile Unit.

By July 1998, he transferred to Lambeth to serve on a specialist Scotland Yard unit dedicated to child protection, working as a detective inspector.

However, it was his role as senior investigating officer with the Met’s Racial and Violent Crime Task Force in 2003 which landed him with Stephen’s case, for which he has been honoured for his relentless pursuit of the truth.

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Aside from Stephen’s case, he also covered high profile cases such as Operation Care, an investigation launched in 1996 into a Lambeth paedophile ring. He believes this included one of Tony Blair’s ministers.

He was also involved in the arrest of serial robber Nicholas “Goldtooth” Stewart, who preyed on gay men on Hampstead Heath, in 2004.

Driscoll was involved in Operation Yewpool, a probe into the “honour killing” of Surjit Athwal, a British Indian woman from Coventry murdered in Punjab in December 1998.

What did he say about ITV drama Stephen?

Driscoll thanked Alan Partridge actor Steve Coogan for taking on the role of playing him in the drama, telling RadioTimes that the pair spoke over Zoom for hours in a bid to teach Coogan about the case.

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Coogan is joined by Sharlene Whyte, who plays Doreen Lawrence, and Hugh Quarshie reprises his role from ITV’s original 1999 drama, as Neville Lawrence.

Driscoll said of the new series: “I thanked him for actually taking the part, being part of the story and keeping Stephen’s story out there. I still think we can all learn from Stephen’s story and we should cherish his memory.”

“I spoke to [Coogan] on Zoom for two-and-a-half hours. He was incredibly lovely and down to earth. We were going to meet up, but that was impossible due to the lockdown. He is a very talented man,” he added.

Driscoll has also spoken of his hopes that the drama could reignite old memories in witnesses and lead to further convictions of those who were involved in Stephen’s death.

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In 2012, Driscoll’s investigation led to the successful conviction of two of the perpetrators - Gary Dobson and David Norris. The pair are two of the five white youths identified and charged in 1993, but later released due to insufficient evidence.

Coogan said of playing Driscoll: ““He was a very attractive person to play. He has a sense of humour, he doesn’t go around with a sort of shield and sword of truth, he just quietly does his job, and that’s something I thought, ironically, it was nice to celebrate someone who wouldn’t celebrate themselves in this story.”

When is Stephen on TV?

Stephen started on ITV on August 30 at 9pm, and continues on Monday September 6. It will also be available on the ITVHub.

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