Former Met Police acting commissioner will not face disciplinary proceedings over alleged rape comments

18 March 2024, 12:44 | Updated: 18 March 2024, 14:29

Sir Stephen House denied making the comments
Sir Stephen House denied making the comments. Picture: Alamy

By Flaminia Luck

Sir Stephen House, the former Metropolitan Police Service Deputy Commissioner, will not face any disciplinary proceedings following allegations he described the bulk of rape complaints as "regretful sex".

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The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said they investigated four specific allegations about his conduct during the meeting in January 2022.

Academic Professor Betsy Stanko had accused the senior officer of making the comments during the meeting, which he denied and suggested that he had been misheard or there was a misunderstanding.

The professor first made the allegations a year after the meeting during a television interview.

On Monday, the IOPC said there was no indication he may have breached the police standards of professional behaviour at the meeting at New Scotland Yard.

The meeting was held to discuss the findings of research into the MPS’ investigation and prosecution of rape and other serious sexual offences.

Other complaints the IOPC looked at included that he was difficult and rude throughout the meeting and that he said rape and serious sexual assault were not equivalent to serious violence or knife crime.

Also, that he used the term “bog of domestics” during a discussion about the overlap between domestic abuse and rape and other serious sexual offences.

The IOPC said investigators had to rely on the recollections of the people present more than a year later because of the lack of written documentation.

In a statement, Mr House said he is "pleased" the IOPC recognised he has demonstrated a "clear record" through his career of prioritising the policing of rape, serious sexual offences and domestic abuse.

He added: "I bitterly regret that these allegations have helped to undermine public confidence in the commitment of the Metropolitan Police to support the victims of rape and I hope that the findings may help to reassure the public of the strength of that commitment."

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IOPC director Amanda Rowe said: “We investigated the allegations thoroughly but faced difficulties as, given the delay in the allegations being raised, we were reliant on those present at the meeting trying to recall what had been said at a meeting that took place more than a year before we spoke to them.

"There were also no minutes or detailed notes made by anyone who attended.

“Both Professor Stanko and Sir Stephen are of impeccable good character and have served long and esteemed careers in the public service for which they have been awarded the highest honours.

“This meeting involved robust challenges between professionals with differing styles and there may have been an element of a personality clash. Professional discussions on sensitive matters will rarely amount to breaches of the standards of professional behaviour.

“We found evidence that indicated Sir Stephen did use the phrase “regretful sex”, but the recollections of those present do not indicate it was used in the context alleged, and in our view there has been a degree of misunderstanding.

“We also considered Sir Stephen’s career history, previous actions and public remarks about combatting violence against women and girls and sexual offences, which supported his assertion that the alleged comments did not reflect his stance on the issue.

“The parties involved have been made aware of our findings.”

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