How rapist cop who was recruited to the Met after a failed investigation went on to attack women at knifepoint

21 February 2024, 15:21 | Updated: 22 February 2024, 11:00

Cliff Mitchell has been found guilty of multiple counts of rape, including three counts against a child under the age of 13.
Cliff Mitchell has been found guilty of multiple counts of rape, including three counts against a child under the age of 13. Picture: Alamy/Met

By Fraser Knight and Connor Hand

A former police officer was welcomed into the Met despite being investigated for six counts of rape against a child four years earlier - and was not re-vetted as part of Operation Onyx, the force's plan to review allegations of sexual abuse from the past 10 years.

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Cliff Mitchell, 24, was only charged when his case was reopened following another attack he’d carried out at knifepoint - after he’d obtained his warrant card. He has today been convicted of multiple counts of rape.

The Met confirmed that all serving officers and staff identified as having being arrested for rape before joining are now being dealt with under Operation Onyx - a change that was a direct consequence of Mitchell's arrest.

However, questions are being raised about whether their investigations will include officers accused of rape and sexual assault prior to their employment, a point which the Met refused to comment on.

The PC, who worked in Hounslow, West London, told his victim nobody would believe her because he was a police officer, as he blindfolded her and bundled her into his car.

LBC can reveal Cliff Mitchell started his officer training in August 2021.

That was after the Met decided to take no further action against him for allegations of rape in 2017.

Following his arrest in September 2023, that investigation was reopened and he was charged with six counts of raping a child - including three when she was under 13.

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Following a trial at Croydon Crown Court, Mitchell was found guilty of 13 rape charges and one of kidnap.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stuart Cundy, of the Met, said: “This is a truly shocking case and I am sickened by Mitchell’s abhorrent behaviour and the pain he has caused the victims, who have shown enormous bravery by coming forward and giving evidence in court.

“Mitchell not only carried out a sustained campaign of abuse against both of his victims, but he told one of them she would never be believed due to the fact he was a police officer. This brazen abuse of power makes Mitchell’s actions all the more deplorable.

“I know this is another case which will impact the confidence people have in us. We are doing more than we have done in decades to rid the Met of those who corrupt our integrity, including investing millions of pounds into our professional standards team and bringing in additional officers and staff with specialist skills and experience to investigate criminality and misconduct.”

The Met Police sacked Cliff Mitchell in December 2023 over a breach of a non-molestation order he had in place, with DAC Cundy adding: “we did not wait for his conviction today”.

In April 2023, the Met announced Operation Onyx to reinvestigate officers and staff who have had allegations of sexual or domestic abuse made against them in the past.

But LBC understands Mitchell’s case wasn’t raised as part of that due to the fact he wasn’t a serving officer when the allegations were made.

It is understood that the 2017 investigation was flagged as part of his vetting procedure when he joined the force, though.

Mitchell attacked his second victim on 5 September 2023, where he raped her at knifepoint.

He blindfolded her with his hooded top and tied her hands with cable ties before forcing her into his car.

In Hackbridge, the woman managed to escape and approached a member of the public who let her into her car, where she called 999.

An alert was put out for Mitchell’s car and he was stopped and arrested around seven miles away in Putney.

He was remanded in custody and charged with multiple counts of rape, kidnap and breach of a non-molestation order.

He was immediately suspended from his job.

The 2017 investigation was reopened which resulted in the Crown Prosecution Service agreeing to charge Mitchell with six counts of rape, including three of a child under 13, which all took place between 2014 and 2017.

Speaking to LBC, Joan Smith, who chaired the Mayor of London's Violence Against Women and Girls Board for nearly a decade, said that there is a need to urgently re-vet all officers accused of similar offences to those of Mr Mitchell.

"I think this is a crisis of confidence. Many women in London will be thinking 'oh no, not another one of these cases', and that even now - nearly three years on from the murder of Sarah Everard and the case of multiple rapist David Carrick - these things are still coming to light. Clearly, whatever measures are being put in place to deal with the problem of perpetrators in the police force, it is still not working."

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper added that the Met faces "extremely serious questions":

“This is a truly shocking, horrendous case. Our thoughts are with the victims and we applaud their bravery in coming forward.

“What’s even more appalling is that some of the offences were committed while Mitchell was a serving police officer, someone who was charged with keeping people safe.

“There are now extremely serious questions as to how Mitchell was able to obtain a job in the Met, having been previously investigated for rape. That should never have been allowed to happen and must never be allowed to happen again."

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Mayor of London said: "“The Met Commissioner has set out an ambitious New Met for London Plan to reform the culture and performance of the Met, this includes setting higher standards for existing officers and staff, including on vetting. The Met are clear that under new working practices Mitchell would not have been granted vetting clearance and been able to join the Met. The Met have also taken action to extend Operation Onyx to cover such circumstances."

In response to the LBC's findings, a spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police said: "Following his charge in September 2023, the MPS asked the head of vetting at another force to review this decision. They concluded the vetting clearance in 2020 was in line with the Authorised Professional Practice issued by the College of Policing. 

"As part of our New Met for London plan, we are reforming the way we vet officers and staff.  

"We have changed our approach and are confident that under our reformed approach, Mitchell would not be granted vetting clearance and be able to join the Met."