Minister: 'Nobody feels more let down' than police officers after Sarah Everard's murder

11 October 2021, 09:12 | Updated: 11 October 2021, 10:09

By Patrick Grafton-Green

A government minister has said "nobody feels more let down" than police officers following the murder of Sarah Everard.

Security minister Damian Hinds was pressed by LBC's Nick Ferrari over whether the inquiry into Ms Everard's killing needed to be statutory to ensure the Metropolitan Police is fully held to account.

Wayne Couzens was jailed for life at the end of last month for kidnapping, raping and murdering the 33-year-old while he was a serving officer with the Met.

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Nick pointed out the "shocking" figure of 2,000 police officers accused of sexual misconduct, including rape, over last four years across England and Wales.

Mr Hinds said: "It is very important to stop and take a moment to pay tribute to the brave men and women... who put themselves in danger day after day in defence of the rest of us.

"Nobody I think feels more shocked, more let down by some of the things that we've heard and in particular the awful, tragic killing of Sarah Everard, nobody feels more let down than those police officers.

"We owe it to them to make sure that we absolutely get to the bottom of these matters and that's why the Home Secretary is instituting the inquiry."

However, Nick said the inquiry was "worthless" unless it was statutory.

He pointed out that the investigation into the Met’s handling of Daniel Morgan’s murder in south-east London in 1987, which was finally released earlier this year, was not statutory and force blocked the production of material.

He said: "There is no point in having an inquiry into the grotesque affair of Sarah Everard and other issues unless it's statutory because the Met will knock the ball into the long grass and hope it goes away as it did with Daniel Morgan as we heard in June. This has to be statutory doesn't it?"

Mr Hinds responded: "I'm not expecting people to block evidence or block participation and block progress.

"It is important for our whole country, it's very important actually for Met Police service in particular... that we get to the bottom of these things."

Nick continued: "They've got form, they didn't cooperate with Daniel Morgan, the judge said so... they won't cooperate here, your colleagues need to make it statutory."

But Mr Hinds said: "I'm fully expecting cooperation from everybody, Metropolitan Police Service of course number one, in relation to this inquiry because it is so important.

"This has absolutely shocked and rocked women and girls but actually our whole nation what has happened and it's very important first to get to the bottom of that particular case but also these wider questions... to make sure all the lessons are learned."

The Home Office has said the independent inquiry will be made up of two parts.

The first will examine Couzens' previous behaviour and his conduct leading up to Ms Everard's murder.

The second will look at any specific issues raised by the first part of the inquiry, which could potentially include wider issues across policing such as vetting practices and workplace behaviour.