Sadiq Khan backs calls for public inquiry into Met Police handling of Stephen Port murders
The mayor of London Sadiq Khan has told PinkNews he backs calls for a full public inquiry into the Metropolitan Police Service’s handling of the investigation into serial killer Stephen Port, who murdered four young gay men in London between 2014 and 2015.
Speaking to PinkNews, Khan said he supported requests from the families of Port’s victims for a full government investigation of the case, which saw Met Police officers initially fail to connect the deaths of Anthony Walgate, Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth and Jack Taylor, who were murdered by Port after meeting online.
The four men, all in their 20s, were given a fatal overdose of date rape drug GHB and sexually assaulted by Port, who left their bodies in and around the same churchyard in Barking, east London over a 15-month period.
“I would support the families’ call for a public inquiry”, said Khan. “It’s a decision for the government and clearly the families still have many questions that are unanswered.
“Separately by the way, we’ve asked the police watchdog, the Independent Office of Police Conduct [IOPC], to also look into the failings of officers in relation to these four horrible murders.”
He continued: “This was a serial killer who it’s now quite clear, had the police done their job properly after the first murder, the other three murders may have been prevented had the police done a proper job.
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“That’s just not acceptable.”
The mayor’s comments come the day after the publication of a highly damaging report that concluded that the Met had not learned from the “calamitous litany of failures” witnessed in the Stephen Port investigation and that the force could once again fail to spot and stop a serial killer.
The 139-page report by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS), pointed to a catalogue of ongoing procedural problems at the Met, including “poor” oversight of junior officers and “unacceptable” record keeping.
Officers also admitted to inspectors that identifying links between deaths at a local level was often simply a matter of “luck”.
Sadiq Khan, who commissioned the inspection report, branded its contents “damning” and said its recommendations must be “actioned speedily” by the Met.
“I’ll be unflinching in my demands of the Met Police Service to make sure they implement all 20 recommendations, but [also] to make sure all Londoners, irrespective of their sexual orientation, their race or their gender receive a top-class service”, he said.
The latest scathing assessment of the Met comes just weeks after an independent review by Baroness Louise Casey found evidence of “institutional homophobia, misogyny and racism, and other forms of discrimination” in the force, as well as several instances of harassment which are which are “often ignored”.
Asked if LGBTQ+ people can feel safe around the Met Police, Khan told PinkNews that the findings of both Baroness Casey and the HMRCFRS cannot be ‘sugar-coated’.
“My thoughts and prayers are with those four [victims’] families, but also with those communities in our city who haven’t got the confidence our police they should have”, the mayor said.
He added: “What I’d say to the LGBTQI+ community is just a few weeks ago Dame Louise Casey concluded that the Met Police Service was institutionally homophobic. That should be a source of shame for our police service but also it should be the incentive they need to change.
“In Dame Louise Casey’s report, she spoke to officers – these are police officers – who had been the victims of homophobia within the police service by fellow police officers. That’s unacceptable.”
Khan’s loss of confidence in former Met Police commissioner Cressida Dick following a series of scandals, including the 2021 killing of Sarah Everard by serving Met police officer Wayne Couzens, led to the resignation of Britain’s most senior police officer in February 2022.
The mayor said that that Dick’s successor Sir Mark Rowley had led “remarkable progress” in his first six months in the job but that “he’s clearly got much more to do”.
“We’ve got to make sure that it’s far more difficult to become a police officer and far more easy to get rid of bad police officers”, Khan noted. “We’ve got the change the culture of the police service and we’ve got to make sure more Londoners, particularly from those communities who previously have had a lack of confidence – people of colour, women and those from the LGBTQI+ community – have more confidence, because that’s how we’re going to make progress.
“We need higher standards, more trust, which leads to less crime.”
Following the publication of Thursday’s (27 April) HMRCFRS report, the sisters of Stephen Port victim Jack Taylor, Donna Taylor and Jenny Taylor, said that the inspector’s conclusion that the Met could make similar mistakes almost a decade on from their brother’s murder was “simply appalling”.
The sisters, who repeatedly flagged doubts about the nature of Jacks’ death to officers before it was officially recognised as murder, said that they “once again” felt “badly let down” by the force.
“The reality is that if police had investigated things properly, Jack could still be here with us today,” the pair commented.
Stephen Port was handed a life sentence in 2016 after being found guilty of multiple counts of sexual assault and murder. He received a whole life order, meaning he will never be released from prison.
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