UK

Police homophobia may have played role in failure to catch murderer Stephen Port, watchdog claims

Lily Wakefield March 22, 2022
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Stephen Port, who murdered Anthony Walgate, Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth and Jack Taylor

Grindr serial killer Stephen Port. (Metropolitan Police)

The Metropolitan Police made assumptions about “the lifestyles of gay men” in investigating the crimes of Stephen Port, according to a leaked report from the Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC).

The unpublished report, seen by Channel 4 News, states that “the public cannot be satisfied that police are making decisions based on evidence and fact” because of the assumptions made in the investigation into Port, who murdered four gay men.

Port, known as a the “Grindr killer”, murdered Anthony Walgate, Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth and Jack Taylor over a 15-month period in 2014 and 2015.

He approached his victims via dating apps before giving them fatal doses of the date rape drug GHB, and was finally sentenced to life in prison in 2016.

Last year, following a lengthy inquest, a jury ruled that there had been police “failures” in investigating Port’s crimes and, had they been avoided, some of his victims may still be alive.

While the inquest heard that officers were guilty of “institutional homophobia”, the jury was told by coroner Sarah Munro QC that they could not consider homophobia or discrimination by officers as a contributing factors in the deaths of the young gay men.

But the leaked IOPC report tells a different story.

It states that officers made assumptions about “the lifestyles of gay men”, and adds: “The investigations into the four deaths reveal that assumptions were made and could have been based, consciously or unconsciously, on discriminatory views.”

The families of Stephen Port victims want an inquiry into whether there is institutional ‘homophobia’ within the Met

Although the idea that homophobia could have allowed Stephen Port’s murder spree to continue is reprehensible, it could come as some relief for the families of his victims.

A petition launched by the families, which has been signed by more than 42,000 people, is calling for an inquiry into homophobia in the Met, and for officers involved in the investigation to be harshly punished.

During the recent inquest, it was revealed that five police officers who were reprimanded for “performance failings” have since been promoted to more senior roles.

Furthermore, following Port’s arrest, nine detectives were told by the IOPC that their performance had “fallen below the standard required”.

Yet not a single officer was fired.

The petition reads: “We need justice for Jack, Anthony, Gabriel and Daniel.

“The families need justice. The officers need to be held accountable. They should not be in the positions of authority they currently hold.

“There is widespread homophobic and gender-phobic discrimination in the police forces, a full public inquiry should be launched to fully investigate the police failings and make an example of those who let down the families of Stephen Port victims.”

In December, a group of 18 MPs wrote a letter to then Met Police chief Cressida Dick to demand a public inquiry into whether the Met Police is “institutionally homophobic”.

They said: “The key question everyone is asking is yet to be answered – whether institutional homophobia in the Met played a role in these investigations… It is imperative that a public inquiry takes place urgently to consider if institutional homophobia played a role in this case.”

In a statement to Channel 4 News, a spokesperson for the Met Police said: “In an organisation of more than 44,000 people, we have already acknowledged there will be a small number with attitudes and beliefs that are not welcome in the Met; we will challenge, educate and discipline as appropriate.”

“We are concerned to hear that, anecdotally, the IOPC has learned some of our LGBT+ advisers have experienced discrimination from colleagues,” they added.

“This is a serious matter and we will be exploring this further.”

PinkNews has contacted the Met Police and the IOPC for comment.

More: Homophobia, Metropolitan Police, Stephen Port

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