The legal team acting on behalf of the four families of Stephen Port’s murder victims have today welcomed news of progress in the Independent Police Complaints Commission’s (IPCC) ongoing investigation.
A statement released by the IPCC this morning says more than 700 individual documents and around 200 statements have so far been collected and carefully analysed.
The IPCC says its independent investigation into the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) response to the deaths of Anthony Walgate, Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth, and Jack Taylor, is progressing well.
Port was convicted of four counts of murder and a number of other offences in November 2016, and was sentenced to life in prison.
The IPCC says investigators will be interviewing 17 police officers in the coming weeks, describing those interviews as an ‘important milestone’ as it looks to build a picture of the police response to the deaths.
Families expect police actions to be fully scrutinised
Neil Hudgell of Hudgell Solicitors, who is representing the four families of the victims, said: “We met with the IPCC yesterday to discuss their investigation to date and have fed this back to the families.
“Naturally, the families welcome any progress and expect the IPCC to fully scrutinise the investigative work undertaken by the Metropolitan Police Service, examine how any potential similarities between the cases were considered and ultimately for the police to be held to account.
“We would also like to take this opportunity to reiterate our appeal to anyone with further information about Stephen Port to come forward.
“It is crucial that we are able to build as full a picture as possible around Port’s activities, identifying any failings in the process and ultimately ensuring that lessons are learnt that will prevent the future suffering of innocent victims.
“There may be individuals out there who had contact with Port, either online or in person, or some may have been told information by another party which may be useful.
“We are fully aware of the trauma caused by Port to many individuals and we would like to reassure anyone with information that they will be treated sensitively and with respect. If a witness wishes to speak to the police, we will pass their details on.
“However, I am sure you can understand that given the circumstances some witnesses do not want to speak to the police and we will respect their wishes. The legal team can be contacted directly on firstname.lastname@example.org”
‘Every piece of evidence counts’ as 17 police officers to be interviewed
IPCC Commissioner Cindy Butts said: “Over the coming weeks our investigators will be undertaking interviews with the 17 officers who have been served with notices as part of the investigation. These interviews are an important milestone in the investigation as we continue to build the picture of the police response to the deaths. Misconduct notices are not judgemental in any way.
“We are grateful for the information provided to us by the family and friends of Anthony, Daniel, Gabriel, and Jack, as well as members the LGBT community and the wider public, and MPS officers.
“In an investigation of this magnitude, centred upon the tragic murders of four dearly missed young men, every piece of information counts and we continue to wish to hear from anyone who can assist this important work.
“My thoughts remain with everyone affected by Port’s horrific crimes, and they can be assured that we are committed to providing them with thorough conclusions as soon as we are able.”
The IPCC says it expects the interview process to take a number of weeks. Investigators will then be in a position to complete the analysis of the evidence at hand, and begin preparing the IPCC’s final report.