Crime

Police officers disciplined over failings in case of Grindr killer Stephen Port have been promoted

Josh Milton December 11, 2021
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Stephen Port, who murdered Anthony Walgate, Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth and Jack Taylor

Grindr serial killer Stephen Port. (Metropolitan Police)

Five Metropolitan Police officers who were disciplined over failings that let Stephen Port slay four young queer people were promoted.

In a campaign of terror that seized Britain’s LGBT+ community, Stephen Port murdered at least four young men over 16 months and raped many more.

He targeted his victims on queer dating apps to drug, rape and kill them before disposing of their bodies by his East London apartment.

The Central Criminal Court sentenced Port to life in prison in 2016.

An inquest jury ruled Friday (10 December) that mistakes made by the Metropolitan Police, the force that covers London, “probably” contributed to the death of his victims, the Evening Standard newspaper reported.

Officers in Barking, east London, missed repeated opportunities to catch Port after he injected first victim Anthony Walgate with a fatal dose of date-rape drug GHB, also known as liquid ecstasy.

A 23-year-old fashion student from Hull, Walgate was lured by Port, a 46-year-old bus depot canteen chief, into his one-bedroom apartment. Port later dragged his body to the curb outside his home and called the police.

He claimed he had not seen Port before, but police quickly learned that he had hired Walgate through an escort service.

The killer was jailed for lying to the authorities. By then, however, he had already murdered twice more.

Port trawled Grindr and Fitlads to find three more victims – their bodies found slumped against walls at a church graveyard just a third of a mile away from his home.

Throughout the case that appalled Britain with its grisly details, police failed to link him to the string of deaths. Alarm bells never went off even when the first victim was found outside Port’s own home.

A relative of one of Port’s victims connected the local deaths through a simple online search, officers still refused to consider murder as a possibility.

Jurors at the inquests into the deaths of Walgate, Gabriel Kovari, 22, Daniel Whitworth, a 21-year-old chef, and 25-year-old forklift truck driver Jack Taylor, said police blunders allowed Port to rip through east London’s queer community.

Barking and Dagenham Police officers, the jurors said, may have been suffering from a “heavy workload” but their failures “cannot be overlooked”.

At Barking Town Hall, Scotland Yard apologised for the “huge mistakes” but said no officers involved in the investigation were sacked.

Five cops, in fact, who were reprimanded for “performance failings” have since been promoted to more senior ranks.

After Port was caught in October 2015, the Independent Office for Police Conduct ruled that nine of the 17 detectives’ “performance as found to have fallen below the standard required”.

Yet the force allowed them to remain in service.

Police promoted disciplined officers despite Stephen Port failings

A spokesperson for the Met said: “In order to achieve promotion, any officer has to go through a broad and rigorous assessment process.

“Following that they have to complete an extensive workbook to evidence their skills and abilities to ensure they are capable of the role/rank.

“We have also spoken to line managers to confirm all those subject to the IOPC investigation who are still in the Met – two officers have retired and one has resigned – are performing to the expected standards.”

Scotland Yard referred itself to the watchdog after “it identified concerns regarding the initial investigations into the men’s deaths”.

Mum Jeanett Taylor (C) and Donna Taylor (R), of victim Jack Taylor speak to the media after a guilty verdict was found against Stephen Port. (Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)

In the IOPC’s 2018 report, the independent body found the officers “did not have a case to answer for misconduct or gross misconduct”.

They did, however, “fall below the standard required that they needed to undergo measures to ensure performance is improved”.

Among the police botches, of which there are many, cops treated the deaths as unrelated. Shrugging them off as cases of drug overdose and suicide, taking the fake suicide notes Port had penned for two victims at face value.

On one note, Port even referenced himself: “Please do not blame the guy I was with last night, we only had sex, then I left.”

Following the results of the inquests, a lack of surprise for the victims’ loved ones.

“The deaths of Anthony, Gabriel, Daniel and Jack should be on public record as one of the most widespread institutional failures in modern history,” the victims’ families said in a statement.

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