Met Police apologise to families for failing to stop monstrous Grindr serial killer Stephen Port

Stephen Port, who murdered Anthony Walgate, Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth and Jack Taylor

The Metropolitan Police has issued a formal apology for its conduct in the investigation of Grindr serial killer Stephen Port ahead of a long-awaited inquiry.

Over the next 10 weeks an inquest jury will hear how Anthony Walgate, 23, Gabriel Kovari, 22, and Daniel Whitworth, 21, and Jack Taylor, 25, met their deaths at the hands of the killer.

Port lured the men from gay hookup sites and plied them with GHB before dumping their bodies near his flat in Barking, east London between June 2014 and September 2015.

Bungled police investigations meant their deaths were recorded as drug overdoses rather than murders, which allowed Port to continue his killing spree. Police were finally pressured to investigate the spate of deaths after friends and family of the victims noticed similarities between the cases and highlighted this to PinkNews.

Port, 46, was eventually given a whole-life order for the murders in 2016. Six years on, Commander Jon Savell of the Metropolitan Police acknowledged the force’s failings in the case and made a formal apology.

“It is extremely important to us that members of the LGBT+ communities trust the police and feel confident they are being provided with the best possible service,” he said.

“At the time of Port’s conviction, we apologised to the victims’ families and Mr Whitworth’s partner for how we initially responded to the deaths, and I would like to apologise again.

“Since Port’s offences came to light we have worked hard within the Met to improve both our processes and our wider knowledge across the organisation of a range of issues associated with the murders.

“We will not prejudge the findings of the inquests but we will review any more improvements the jury and coroner identify that we need to make.”

He added that the Met was offering “every assistance” to the coroner and welcomed a “full examination of all the facts surrounding the tragic deaths”.

The Independent Office of Police Conduct said previously it had found “systemic failings” in relation to the case, but none of the 17 officers involved faced further action for misconduct.

Nearly all of the officers had refused to answer questions in interviews with the police watchdog.

For years the families of the victims have continued to campaign for answers as to why Stephen Port was not stopped sooner. Their lawyer, Neil Hudgell, said they now hope the inquest will confirm whether their loved ones’ sexuality affected the police response.

“Their families have felt every single day of their absence. They have waited with great patience and conducted themselves with real dignity,” he said ahead of Tuesday’s hearing.

“Yet they’ve always wondered about whether there would have been a different outcome if the police had investigated Port properly and taken their concerns seriously, and if their boys hadn’t been gay,.

“For them, the inquests mark a key step in their quest for accountability.”