Two men jailed earlier this year for the notorious racist murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence in 1993 have lost the first round of their bid to challenge their convictions.

Gary Dobson, 36, and David Norris, 35, were given life sentences at the Old Bailey in January after being convicted of the killing on the basis of new forensic evidence.

They were part of a gang of white youths who stabbed the 18-year-old to death in an unprovoked attack at a bus stop in Eltham, southeast London, the jury heard.

A single Court of Appeal judge rejected their applications for permission to appeal but the pair could still renew their applications before a panel of judges sitting at the court.

Dobson, who was 17 at the time of the attack, was sentenced to at least 15 years and two months behind bars while Norris, who was 16, must serve a minimum of 14 years and three months.

Sentencing the pair, Judge Colman Treacy said Lawrence's murder was a "terrible and evil crime" committed for "no other reason than racial hatred".

He urged police to continue their search for the other killers in a case he said had "scarred the conscience of the nation".

The Lawrence case sparked an overhaul of the police after a damning report found the original investigation was hampered by "institutional racism", and is viewed as a milestone in race relations in Britain.

A 1999 inquiry found the initial murder inquiry was marred by professional incompetence, leadership failures and racism, triggering major police reforms.

Norris and Dobson were convicted on the basis of new forensic evidence which was not available to detectives in 1993 and police are continuing their inquiries in an effort to bring about further prosecutions.