Sadiq Khan launches vital probe into ‘homophobia, misogyny and racism’ in Met Police

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

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has launched a probe into the Metropolitan Police after an inquest into the victims of Grindr serial killer Stephen Port, saying that the “young men and their families deserved so much better”. 

The investigation comes after the families of the four young, gay men killed by Port in Barking, London, between June 2014 and September 2015 claimed that police prejudice made officers “unwilling to engage” with their concerns.

The inquest on Friday (10 December) heard that John Pape, a friend of Port’s second victim Gabriel Kovari, 22, provided detectives with information that he thought may link his death with Port’s first victim, Anthony Walgate, 23. His concerns were dismissed.

“My concerns went beyond what happened to Gabriel and became: Is there something happening in Barking that is dangerous to other young gay men?” Pape said, as reported by The Guardian.

Stephen Port went on to kill at least two more men, Daniel Whitworth, 21, and Jack Taylor, 25, before police finally connected the deaths.

In the wake of the damning inquest into Stephen Port’s victims, Sadiq Khan said he has asked Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, Fire and Rescue Services to conduct an independent review into the Metropolitan Police.

Sadiq Khan said: “My thoughts today are with the families and friends of Anthony Walgate, Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth and Jack Taylor.

“The evidence given to this inquest was deeply upsetting, and the quality of the investigation carried out by the Metropolitan Police Service at the time of the murders has raised a number of concerns.

“The impact this has had on the victims’ families and friends – on top of the devastating trauma of the murder of their loved ones – is profoundly distressing, and has damaged the confidence of the LGBTQ+ community in the police.

“While the Met Police has apologised for its failings and made changes since these horrific murders were committed, I have asked Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, Fire and Rescue Services to conduct an independent inspection into the standards of investigations carried out by the Met Police and ensure there is a clear plan of action.

“It is vital that London’s LGBTQ+ community has confidence in our police, and Baroness Casey’s independent review into the Met’s culture and standards will address the issues of misogyny, sexism, racism and homophobia, and scrutinise police processes and standards of behaviour amongst officers and staff.

“These young men and their families deserved so much better and I will do everything in my power to make sure that the failings that contributed to the deaths of these innocent young men can never be repeated.”

Jury at the inquests into the deaths of the four men found that officers in Barking missed repeated opportunities to catch Port after he killed his first victim with a fatal dose of the date-rape drug GHB.

Officers stated that mistakes made were due to being understaffed and lacking resources, and denied accusations of prejudice and homophobia.

On Friday, MPs wrote an open letter to Met commissioner Cressida Dick, signed by Dame Margaret Hodge and 17 other lawmakers, demanding an inquiry into whether the Met Police is “institutionally homophobic”.

The MPs wrote: “The police have admitted their mistakes, instituted new protocols and emphasised that a lack of resources was to blame.

“However, resourcing alone does not explain the sheer number of failures by the police in this matter.

“The key question everyone is asking is yet to be answered – whether institutional homophobia in the Met played a role in these investigations.”

The letter added that of the 17 officers investigated for misconduct, none were dismissed. Some, in fact, were promoted.

Port, a 46-year-old bus depot chef, was sentenced to life in prison in 2016.