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The police watchdog is to reinvestigate the Metropolitan Police over its initial handling of the murders of four young men by serial killer Stephen Port.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said there is evidence its original investigation into officer conduct was “materially flawed”, with “new information” coming to light in the inquiries. about the deaths of Anthony Walgate, Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth and Jack Taylor, held last year.

Inquiries concluded that police failures “probably” contributed to the deaths of the last three victims, all of whom were illegally killed.

None of the 17 officers involved in the original IOPC investigation, conducted before the inquests, faced disciplinary action, although 16 of them gave “no comment” interviews.

The families of the victims said that the IOPC’s announcement on Thursday was “the only logical decision open to the IOPC after the weight of the evidence heard in the inquiries”, and accused the police of having “blood on their hands” after Port’s murder spree only stopped. after the fourth murder.

Stephen Port murders
Daniel Whitworth, Jack Taylor, Anthony Walgate and Gabriel Kovari were killed over a 16-month period by Stephen Port (Metropolitan Police/PA)

The Metropolitan Police said it would offer “its full support” to the new investigation.

IOPC Regional Director Graham Beesley said: “Since the investigations concluded, an IOPC team has been closely examining the original investigation material and comparing it to the information and verbal accounts provided to the new investigations.

“The IOPC can only re-investigate a matter if we are satisfied that the original investigation was materially flawed in a way that had an impact on subsequent decisions made on discipline, performance and/or referral to the Crown Prosecution Service, and/or there are ‘significant new information’ that requires further investigation.

“In this case, the reinvestigation process has identified evidence that meets the categories of significant new information and material failure, and we believe that a proportionate, but thorough, re-investigation is in the public interest.”

Stephen Port murders
The families of Stephen Port’s victims at Barking Town Hall, after a grand jury found that police failures in the murder of Anthony Walgate ‘likely’ contributed to the deaths of the other men (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

He said the decision to re-investigate “does not necessarily mean that the entirety of the original investigation will be re-examined.”

The inquest jury found that officers in Barking repeatedly missed opportunities to catch Port after he harassed his first victim, Mr. Walgate, with a fatal dose of the date-rape drug GHB and dumped his body.

Port struck three more times before he was finally caught, killing each victim in nearly identical circumstances, and police were unable to link him to the deaths despite detective work by the victims’ family and friends that would lead them to the guilty.

Officers denied accusations of bias and homophobia, instead blaming the mistakes on a lack of staff and resources, with some acting in high positions.

Attorney Neil Hudgell, speaking on behalf of the victims’ families, said the original IOPC report “was hampered by a wall of silence” as almost all of the officers questioned gave interviews “without comment”.

Stephen Port murders
The places where Stephen Port dumped the bodies during his 16-month killing spree (Metropolitan Police/PA)

He said: “Our hope now is that the IOPC has much more to go on.

“There remains a big question mark as to whether police bias played a role in the investigations.”

He added: “The Metropolitan Police’s inadequate investigations into the four deaths is one of the most widespread institutional failures in modern history, exacerbated by a woeful lack of remorse, regret or sympathy shown in the inquiries by some of the officers involved. .

“Port was jailed for life, but the police also have blood on their hands. It is time for them to be held accountable.”

Port, now 47, a former bus depot chef, will die in prison after receiving a life sentence at the Old Bailey for the murders in 2014 and 2015, as well as a series of sexual assaults.

Stephen Port murders
The location outside Stephen Port’s former apartment on Cooke Street, Barking, where the body of his first victim, fashion student Anthony Walgate, was found (Emily Pennink/PA)

Nine of the 17 officers investigated by the IOPC in 2018 were found to have performance flaws.

But none of the nine were disciplined or lost their jobs, and some have since been promoted.

Acting Deputy Commissioner Helen Ball said: “The death of these four young men is a tragedy and we deeply regret that there have been flaws in our police response. Once again, I offer my sincerest apologies and those of the Met.

“The entire Met is committed to improving our investigations, our relationships and the trust people have in us to keep them safe.

“Her Majesty’s Police Inspectorate and Fire and Rescue Services are with us now, conducting an inspection into how we respond to and investigate deaths. We look forward to your findings and any recommendations you may have.

“If the new IOPC investigation makes further recommendations for improvements, we will of course take them very seriously, along with any misconduct issues that may arise.”


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