The Met Police needs to finally take responsibility and confront homophobia in its ranks, the families of victims of serial killer Stephen Port have said.
It comes after the damning Casey review into the Met, relesed on Tuesday, branded it institutionally homophobic.
The report highlighted the cases of Anthony Walgate, Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth and Jack Taylor who were killed by Port between June 2014 and September 2015 in east London.
Their families have maintained that errors made by Scotland Yard in the case were “driven by homophobia”, which is denied by the Met.
An inquest into the deaths in 2021 found that “fundamental failings” by the Met “probably” contributed to the young men’s deaths.
In a statement, issued by their lawyers, Jack Taylor’s sisters, Donna and Jenny, said the report highlighted that “someone needs to take responsibility” for homophobia in the Met’s ranks and called for a public inquiry.
“You can’t put it right and change the culture if you don’t know what’s going wrong, why it’s going wrong, or fail to fully investigate the root of the problems,” they said.
Sarah Sak, mother of Anthony Walgate, Port’s first victim, said: “The Met needs to acknowledge the issues and do something about them or we will have 300 pages of wasted paper.
“This has not yet happened because the Met still continues to deny homophobia.”
Baroness Casey said in Tuesday’s report she could not publicly offer a view on whether homophobia played a part in the failings in the case because of an ongoing watchdog investigation into some of those involved.
However, she was critical of the Met’s response to accusations of homophobia, saying for some of the victims’ families, “the Met’s failure to properly engage on this topic prevents them from feeling like justice has been done”.
She said the coroner at the inquest told the jury it could not make any findings on homophobia for legal reasons - but that since then, Met officers have used that to “bat away” calls for a public inquiry into the men’s deaths.
Baroness Casey’s review must be a critical moment. Finally after 2 yrs of campaigning, the Met has been defined as institutionally homophobic vindicating what the families of Stephen Port’s victims have always said. It‘s not the public’s job to keep ourselves safe from the police— Margaret Hodge (@margarethodge) March 21, 2023
Margaret Hodge, Labour MP for Barking and Dagenham, said the report “must be a critical moment”.
“Finally after 2 years of campaigning, the Met has been defined as institutionally homophobic vindicating what the families of Stephen Port’s victims have always said,” she said.
Contacted for comment by the Standard, the Met referred to its most recent statement on the case by Commander Jon Savell.
“The deaths of these four young men is a tragedy and we are deeply sorry there were failings in our police response,” he said.
“Again, I give my own and the Met’s heartfelt apologies.”
He said the Met had made improvements and that it was offering every support to the police watchdog in its reinvestigation of some of the officers involved.
“If this reinvestigation makes further recommendations for improvements we will of course consider those very seriously, in addition to any misconduct matters that may arise,” he said.