British MPs have called for an inquiry into the Metropolitan Police Service’s failure to properly investigate the deaths of four gay men who were victims of convicted serial rapist and serial killer Stephen Port.
Warning: This story has details of murders of gay men and discussions of homophobic conduct that might be distressing to some readers. For 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.
Barking MP Margaret Hodge and 17 other MPs in a letter to the Met Commissioner sought an inquiry into whether “institutional homophobia” had played a role in the police bungling the investigations.
Port was sentenced to life imprisonment for murdering Anthony Walgate, Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth and Jack Taylor in Barking between 2014 and 2015, and for a series of sexual assaults.
Police Failed To Investigate Killings Of Gay Men
In the wake of the murders of four young, gay men, today I asked the Govt to launch an urgent public inquiry to consider if the Met police is institutionally homophobic. Three of these deaths were preventable were it not for police failures. Action must be taken. pic.twitter.com/OgxUPhRU4R
— Margaret Hodge (@margarethodge) December 13, 2021
“Anthony Walgate, Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth, and Jack Taylor were all murdered between June 2014 and September 2015. Port plied them with a fatal dose of GHB and other drugs, raped them, and killed them, before abandoning their bodies, three of which were found within yards of each other near St Margaret’s church,” the letter said.
“Each time, the police failed to investigate the case properly, neglected to follow up on information that came to light, and dismissed leads that would have connected the cases and taken them to the murderer – Stephen Port.”
“The coincidence of three gay men being found dead so close together did not give rise to concerns that these deaths were linked. Instead, a presumption was made that these were young gay men, some of them ‘rent boys’, who were habitual GHB users and accidentally overdosed. Therefore, the individual deaths were not properly investigated ,” the MPs said.
Inquest Finds Police Ignored Multiple Opportunities To Nail Port
According to the letter Walgate’s parents had asked the police to check Port’s laptop but were told this would be too expensive. “The CCTV footage which showed Port and Taylor together, which was eventually used to identify Port as the killer, was not acted upon. And throughout the 12 months the murders took place, family members, partners and friends of the victims were ignored by the police. These are just four examples amongst a litany of failures,” the MPs said
The inquests into the death had revealed that the police didn’t examine the forensic evidence including Port’s laptop, the DNA on the bedsheets which were found on two of the bodies, and the forged suicide note.
The inquest heard that the police “failed to carry out basic checks, send evidence to be forensically examined, and exercise professional curiosity while Port was embarking on his killing spree”. It also ignored multiple opportunities to find that Port was responsible for killing who was his first victim, Anthony Walgate.
The police conceded during the inquest that it had made many “terrible mistakes”.
“The police have admitted their mistakes, instituted new protocols, and emphasised that a lack of resources was to blame. However, resourcing alone does not explain the sheer number of failures by the police in this matter. The key question everyone is asking is yet to be answered – whether institutional homophobia in the Met played a role in these investigations,” added the MPs
If you feel distressed reading the story, you can reach out to support services.
For 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14
For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.