The families of Stephen Port’s murder victims are losing confidence in the Independent Police Complaints Commission’s (IPCC) ability to fully investigate the police’s initial response to the deaths of their loved ones, their lawyer has said.
Speaking on behalf of the families, Neil Hudgell of Hudgell Solicitors says he has now been told by the IPCC that none of the 19 Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) officers under investigation have been interviewed by the IPCC.
“The families are growing increasingly frustrated by the lack of progress being made by the IPCC,” said Mr Hudgell.
“We were originally told that the officers would be interviewed in January 2017, but the IPCC hasn’t even managed to get dates in the diary and our requests for substantive updates fall upon deaf ears. It feels like the IPCC is becoming impotent in the face of stalling by the MPS.
“The families feel that history is repeating itself as the MPS continues to ignore them. They are losing confidence that the IPCC has the ability to get to the truth; the longer this drags on, the greater the chance of evidence being lost or forgotten.”
Final IPCC report now not expected to be published until 2018
The families were originally told that a first draft report would be complete by the autumn of 2017. Yet when Neil Hudgell and Andy Petherbridge of Hudgell met with IPCC commissioner Cindy Butts and lead investigator Ben Williams on 14 March, these timeframes were revised to a first draft being ready by the end of 2017, with a view to the report being finalised early 2018. With no interviews in the diary, these dates could slip further still.
The MPS referred itself to the IPCC in October 2015.
Mandy Pearson, step-mother of Port victim Daniel Whitworth, says: “We continue to seek answers and accountability from the police about how, for a whole year, they let us believe that Daniel had committed suicide, in which time Port went on to kill again.
“We really did hope that, with Port now behind bars, the police would be held to account for their actions. The fact that after all this time we’re still no further forward is insulting and distressing for all of the families. However, the MPS should know that none of us will ever give up their search for the truth and we will keep the pressure on.”
Stephen Port was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment in November 2016 for the murders of 22-year-old Gabriel Kovari, 21-year-old Daniel Whitworth, 23-year-old Anthony Walgate and 25-year-old Jack Taylor.
The families of each of the victims instructed civil liberties and police action specialists Neil Hudgell and Andrew Petherbridge of Hudgell Solicitors and Leslie Thomas QC of Garden Court Chambers to represent them.