Disband IOPC over Stephen Port inquiry, says friend of Four Lives serial killer’s victim

John Pape, a friend and one-time landlord of Gabriel Kovari, the second victim of Stephen Port, has hit out at the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) over their investigation into police failings.

The friend of one of Grindr killer Stephen Port’s victims has called for a key police watchdog to be disbanded, and described the Met as having a “lack of accountability”.

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The watchdog says it “strongly rejects claims we are ineffective at holding the police accountable”.

From left, Anthony Walgate, Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth, and Jack Taylor. Photos: Supplied

Police failed to link the deaths, look into key evidence including a forced suicide note, or search Port’s laptop - despite his arrest in relation to Walgate’s death.

An IOPC investigation concluded in 2018 and took no formal disciplinary action against 17 officers involved in the case, but concluded the actions of seven “fell below standard”.

No report has ever been published but the IOPC says it is considering reopening its inquiry.

But Mr Pape, 43, a video producer, says the fact no officers were disciplined made the force look “dodgy” and said: “I do roll my eyes at that.”

He said: “I do worry about the IOPC and the issue of a lack of accountability.

“How much money they spent on the last one, how much time, how it delayed things… I think disband the IOPC, don’t just have another investigation.

John Pape has called to disband the IOPC. Photo: Supplied

“It made them look dodgy - the fact that the IOPC didn’t go after anyone.

“The police have to be accountable and that was such an open goal. I think that’s a serious issue.”

He continued: “I’m not the only person and this isn’t the only case where people have called for [disbanding the IOPC].

“I had a certain amount of faith in that investigation and for them to come back with what they did. I’ve heard there are people within the Met who thought that was ridiculous.

“But, it’s great that we live in a country where the police are forced to apologise. That does mean something.”

The Met Police was contacted for comment but referred LondonWorld to the IOPC.

Serial Killer Stephen Port. Credit: Met Police

An IOPC spokesperson said: “As the inquests into the deaths of Anthony Walgate, Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth and Jack Taylor progressed, we were assessing whether to reopen our investigation into the way the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) handled its investigations. That process is on-going.

“Our original investigation found the performance of officers on the investigations linked to Stephen Port was poor.

“We investigated the actions of 17 officers, all but one gave ‘no comment’ interviews and provided written responses to our investigators.

“We have also identified multiple areas for learning and will announce those when we can.

“Legislation enables that we may reopen investigations only where there are compelling reasons to do so.

“The IOPC is independent of government, the police and the complainants. We strongly reject claims we are ineffective at holding the police accountable.

“Since we were established in 2018, the IOPC has completed 1,895 investigations.

“Our annual outcomes report, published in December 2021, showed that 79% of misconduct proceedings, carried out as a result of IOPC investigations, led to gross misconduct or misconduct being found proven.

“Between April 2020 and March 2021, 107 misconduct proceedings were carried out by appropriate authorities following our investigations. Of these, 85, or 79% led to a finding of either gross misconduct (44) or misconduct (41) being found proven.

“We have made more than 500 learning recommendations, which have made policing and the public safer, driving systemic change and helping to fix the root cause of problems.”