By Isabel Ringrose
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2785

Rage over Met’s ‘institutional homophobia’ after murder of four gay men

Racism, sexism and homophobia are wired into every aspect of the police
Issue 2785
A protester holds a sign that breads The police do not keep up safe stop the policing bill. They are surrounded by cops

This isn’t the first scandal to rock the Met this year. A protest against the police after the murder of Sarah Everard. (Picture: Guy Smallman)

The Metropolitan Police could face an inquiry into “institutional homophobia” after failing to properly investigate the murders of four gay men.

The force’s failures around serial killer Stephen Port “probably” contributed to three of the four deaths, an inquest jury found.

Port murdered Anthony Walgate, Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth and Jack Taylor between June 2014 and September 2015. He administered fatal doses of the “date rape” drug GHB and dumped their bodies near his flat in Barking, east London.

The jury said there were “fundamental failings in these investigations from the beginning” and “basic lines of inquiry were not followed”.

The families of the victims have described the findings as “one of the most widespread institutional failures in modern history”.

Police failed to link the deaths despite the fact that three of the men’s bodies were found in a Barking churchyard very near Port’s home. The first victim Walgate’s body was found outside the killer’s flat.

John Pape was friends with the second victim Kovari and repeatedly raised concerns. He said he linked the first three deaths, but was dismissed by cops.

Pape said, “To my mind, the only thing that makes any sense of how disturbingly incompetent this investigation was, is prejudice.

“And if it means that the lives and deaths of young gay and bi-men aren’t treated with significance and respect, that amounts to institutional homophobia.”

He added that prejudice within the Met “had led to incompetence and unequal treatment”, ticking every box for institutional homophobia.

Jurors were not asked to consider if prejudice, homophobia or discrimination contributed to the deaths of Port’s victims.

Walgate’s mother Sarah Sak said she was “really bitterly disappointed” jurors were not asked to consider homophobia. “The Met had fought tooth and nail to keep the homophobia question out,” she said.

“It was clearly the case. Anthony’s investigation was shut down after two weeks.”

Relatives claim police wrote the victims off as “gay druggies”.

Another officer believed Kovari and Taylor could be drug users because they were “skinny”. Taylor’s father believed “the police didn’t look any further” because they had branded him a drug addict.

Officers also denied Whitworth’s partner Ricky Waumsley access to his supposed “suicide note”.

Waumsley said he was dismissed “in every single way because we were a gay, unmarried couple”.

Post mortem injuries on Whitworth’s body were attributed to “rough sex”, despite a lack of forensic evidence. When his body was found the duty inspector described the location in an email as a “haven for gay sex (even dogging) and rough sleepers”.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct said it could reopen its 2019 inquiry that handed no disciplinary action to 17 police officers investigated for misconduct. Seven of the officers have since been promoted.

The accusation of institutional homophobia at the Met come after its was found to be institutionally corrupt by an inquiry into the Daniel Morgan murder case in June. The Sarah Everard case showed it to be institutionally sexist earlier this year.

And it was already found to be institutionally racist by the Macpherson report in 1999.

Racism, sexism and homophobia are wired into every aspect of the police and the state and system they defend.

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