IOPC may reopen investigation into MPS handling of Stephen Port murders

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said it is considering reopening its investigation into the way police dealt with the murders committed by Stephen Port after an inquest found that mistakes in the invesigation ‘probably’ contributed to the deaths.

Dec 10, 2021
By Tony Thompson
Stephen Port

In a statement, IOPC Regional Director Graham Beesley said: “Our thoughts remain with the families and friends of Anthony Walgate, Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth and Jack Taylor – we recognise how distressing it will have been to revisit the deaths of their loved ones over the past few months.

“As the inquest has progressed, we have been assessing whether to reopen – either in full or in part – our investigation into the way the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) handled inquiries into their deaths, and that process is on-going.

“We can reopen an investigation where there are compelling reasons to do so. Those reasons could arise if new information has a real possibility of affecting our decisions and findings and is in the public interest.

“We investigated the actions of 17 officers, all but one gave no comment interviews and provided written responses to our investigators. We are examining if anything was said by the officers who gave evidence during the inquests which could alter our findings and give grounds to re-open our investigation.

“In line with our our policy on re-opening investigations, and given the significant impact any decision may have on all of those involved, we will be seeking representations from all affected parties.

During the original IOPC investigation, which concluded in August 2018, it examined:

  • The actions and decisions of some of those involved in the investigations into the deaths of the four men and into the missing person’s report of Daniel Whitworth in relation to the actual and potential evidence available;
  • Whether the fact the four men were believed to be gay impacted upon the actions and decisions taken; and
  • The response of the MPS to the inquest held in June 2015 into the deaths of Mr Kovari and Mr Whitworth, which delivered an open verdict. Mr Taylor’s body was found in September 2015.

“No individual officer had a case to answer for gross misconduct but the performance of nine officers fell below the standard required,” said Mr Beesley.

“Of these nine officers, seven received feedback from their manager, known as management action. One of those also received informal learning for another related matter.

“The remaining two officers were subject to formal unsatisfactory performance procedures and attended meetings to discuss their performance and appropriate action going forward.

“We found no case to answer for the remaining eight officers in terms of misconduct. However, one of those eight officers underwent informal learning to improve their practice.

“Our investigation report and a separate report focusing on organisational learning recommendations will be published at the conclusion of all proceedings.”

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