Stephen Port - Barking serial killer: Eight Met Police officers investigated for gross misconduct
Eight officers and former officers of the Met Police are being investigated over the case handling of 'Grindr killer' Stephen Port.
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Five Met Police officers and three former officers are being investigated over the case handling of serial killer Stephen Port. In a statement released on Thursday (November 16), the Independent Office for Police Conduct said the officers are being investigated for gross misconduct.
The police force was heavily criticised for its handing of the Port murders, with a watchdog report accusing the Met Police of a "calamitous litany of failures" in investigating the murders of Anthony Walgate, Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth and Jack Taylor in 2014 and 2015.
His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) report, released in April, warned that history "could repeat itself" as officers remain unacquainted with the proper procedure for dealing with unexpected or unexplained deaths.
Port was found guilty of the murder and rape of the four men, who he arranged to meet on dating apps such as Grindr in Barking, east London, and is currently serving a whole life order behind bars. However, considerable errors were made in the investigation before his conviction, with significant evidence missed by investigators.
Today, the IOPC said: "All eight have recently been told they are being investigated for gross misconduct for possible breaches of police professional standards relating variously to equality and diversity, duties and responsibilities, authority respect and courtesy and honesty and integrity.
"Five of the officers were subjects in the investigation by our predecessor the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) – three are still serving and two are former officers. We announced in June 2022 that we were re-investigating the way the Met initially handled its investigations into the deaths of the four men in Barking, east London. This was after new evidence, previously unknown to us, was given by Met officers at inquest hearings which concluded in late 2021."
"We continue to follow lines of enquiry and will be conducting further witness interviews. To date we have examined 3,500 documents from various sources, including police investigations, the multiple inquests that have been held, the Port murder trial, the statements given to the original IPCC investigation and then to the subsequent inquest in 2021."
IOPC regional director Steve Noonan said: “Our thoughts remain with the families and friends of Anthony, Gabriel, Daniel and Jack who were tragically murdered by Stephen Port in Barking. I want to pay tribute to the families of these young men who have shown considerable patience as we got to the position we are in now.
“Our re-investigation has been, and continues to be, thorough and detailed. We recognise it has taken some time to reach this stage, but these are complex matters, involving multiple officers and four investigations into unexplained deaths and then the subsequent murder investigation into Port.
“Though we have found an indication that the behaviour of these eight individuals may have amounted to gross misconduct, this does not necessarily mean disciplinary proceedings will automatically follow. Based on the evidence, at the conclusion of our investigation we will decide whether any officers should face disciplinary proceedings.”
In response, Met Police Commander Jon Savell said: “We continue to fully support an re-investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct into the initial police response into the deaths of Anthony Walgate, Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth and Jack Taylor. We are aware of the latest update from the IOPC.
“The deaths of these four young men is a tragedy and we are deeply sorry there were failings in our police response. Again, I give my own and the Met’s heartfelt apologies. Our thoughts are, as always, with their families and friends.
“The whole of the Met is committed to improving our investigations, our relationships and the trust people have in us to keep them safe. Since the deaths of Anthony, Gabriel, Daniel and Jack we continue to work hard to ensure the service we provide is better while understanding we have more to do.
“Learning and recommendations from the IOPC, His Majesty’s Coroner, His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services and our LGBT+ Independent Advisory Group of community members have enabled us to make a range of improvements so far. These include restoring full time LGBT+ liaison officers across the Met to focus on working with LGBT+ people and organisations in London, how we respond to and investigate unexpected deaths, and family liaison.”