The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has today confirmed it is investigating five current and three former Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) officers for gross misconduct.
It comes as part of a re-investigation into how the deaths of Anthony Walgate, Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth and Jack Taylor were originally handled by the force.
The four young men were all murdered by serial killer Stephen Port between June 2014 and September 2015 in Barking, East London.
In an original investigation, in which 17 officers were investigated, all but one of the officers gave no-comment interviews under misconduct caution and chose to provide written responses to the investigators. None faced disciplinary action.
However, following inquests into the four men’s deaths in 2021, at which new evidence was unearthed, a new investigation was launched, leading to today’s announcement that eight officers have been told they are being investigated for gross misconduct.
Investigation relates to potential beach of policing standards
Reviews have been conducted into the original investigation material, the information provided to the 2021 inquest, and Coroner’s reports.
Around 3,500 documents relating to police investigations, the murder trial of Stephen Port, and statements given to the original investigation have also been examined, the IOPC says.
The investigations for gross misconduct relate to possible breaches of police professional standards ‘relating variously to equality and diversity, duties and responsibilities, authority respect and courtesy and honesty and integrity.’
Five of the officers – three still serving and two former officers – were subjects of the initial investigation.
Speaking on behalf of the families of Port’s victims, solicitor Neil Hudgell, of Hudgell Solicitors, said: “The families of Anthony, Gabriel, Daniel and Jack very much welcome today’s announcement that eight officers are to be investigated for gross misconduct.
“Given the history of this case and frustrations of the past, they are cautiously encouraged by the reopening of the investigation, which must be seen to be full and fearless, and with the complete cooperation of the Metropolitan Police Service and the officers under scrutiny. No comment interviews simply will not do.
“This latest development is testament to the determination and perseverance the families have shown over the past eight years with regards to the Met Police’s investigations into the loss of their loved ones.
“We would not have reached this point without their dedication to ensuring full transparency and accountability.”