15/11/2011 02:02 GMT | Updated 15/11/2011 07:29 GMT

Stephen Lawrence Murder Trial To Open Before Jury

The trial of two men accused of the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence is due to open in front of a jury.

A panel of 24 potential jurors was selected at the Old Bailey on Monday and the final 12 who will hear the case will be chosen at random on Tuesday morning.

Prosecutor Mark Ellison QC will then open his case in front of the jury.

Gary Dobson, 36, and David Norris, 35, both of south London, are accused of murdering 18-year-old Stephen in April 1993. The A-level student was stabbed at a bus stop in Eltham, south-east London.

On Monday, his parents Doreen and Neville sat in court 16 in seats next to the dock to see the beginning of the trial.

Potential jurors were told that the past history of the case was "irrelevant for the purposes of the decision which you have to make". Mr Justice Treacy continued: "In order to have a fair trial I must be sure that the members of the jury panel are people who are independent and who don't have any links to any aspect of the case which might disqualify them from sitting as an independent juror."

A total of 49 potential jurors were initially chosen before the pool was reduced to 24. Current or former employees of the Metropolitan Police, forensic service and Crown Prosecution Service or their close family and friends were excluded, as were those with a detailed knowledge of the case.

Any potential jurors who live in Lewisham, Greenwich, Bromley, Bexley or Bexleyheath had already been ruled out.

Mr Justice Treacy said that the case has "aroused strong feelings in people" over the years but that jurors should do nothing that might jeopardise a fair trial. He went on: "This trial has been months and months in the preparation. A trial of this nature is an extremely expensive trial to run. That's one very good reason why we can't afford, literally, to have any disruption to the trial."

He also told the jurors that there was an "absolute prohibition" on their attempting to research the case on the internet.