Long-serving Daily Mail editor-in-chief, Paul Dacre authorised the front page on February 14, 1997, which published the faces of the five accused – Gary Dobson, David Norris, Neil Acourt, Luke Knight and Jamie Acourt under the headline “Murderers: the Mail accuses these men of killing. If we are wrong, let them sue us.”

Bold, provocative and moralising, the headline was classic Daily Mail and stirred up the media industry and the legal constitution at the time.

Dacre said yesterday publishing the page, was a “monumental risk”, but believed it did “a huge amount of good” to bring Gary Dobson and David Norris to justice.

“Yes, the Daily Mail took a monumental risk with that headline,” Dacre said to the Mail Online.

“In many ways it was an unprecedented, outrageous step, but I’d like to think that as a result we did a huge amount of good and made history that day.”

Stephen Lawrence’s mother Doreen Lawrence said running the headline was a bold move.

“[The Mail’s front page] definitely surprised me; that a newspaper was prepared to go out on a limb because at that time, even though we suspected they were guilty, there was nothing to prove that they were murderers, so to take that chance, to print that, it went show they were the guilty ones because if they weren’t, they would have looked to challenge the paper over it.

“It makes a big difference to have that kind of support because you don’t want to be this lone voice. To have the backing behind you does make a difference.”

Stephen Lawrence’s father, Neville Lawrence, described the paper’s challenge as a dare.

“People started thinking, for the first time, “How could they say that and no one has taken action against them? Surely they would go after the newspaper if they hadn’t killed Stephen”. It opened the case right up, and after that the gang had nowhere to hide.”

The murder of Stephen Lawrence sparked changes in policing, forensic science, community relations and the law. It also made waves in the media.

The director of public prosecutions is currently considering whether the Spectator should face prosecution after a Rod Liddle comment piece threatened to derail the trial in November. Mr Justice Treacy, the Old Bailey judge in the Lawrence trial, ordered jurors not to read the magazine as it potentially breached the Criminal Justice Act.
The comment piece breached reporting restrictions placed on the media after Dobson and Norris were re-arrested and charged for the first time in September 2010.
Media were given a warning by The Press Complaints Commission last year after witnesses in the trial were approached by journalists.