Daniel Barnett 9pm - 10pm
'Officer Naughty' says she has been made a scapegoat for Met Police failure to catch Wayne Couzens
27 May 2023, 00:27
A former Met Police officer who was accused of missing an opportunity to properly investigate Wayne Couzens prior to the murder of Sarah Everard has claimed she is being made a scapegoat.
Samantha Lee was accused of dishonesty and failing to properly investigate parliamentary and diplomatic protection officer Couzens, 50, over two incidents of flashing.
Lee said in a statement on Friday: “I think it’s completely unfair that this case has been put on me when there was a chance to stop Couzens so much earlier.
“They’ve thrown me under the bus so the Met can say ‘we’ve done something now’ and they’ll move on.”
Lee said: “Everyone’s just coming down on me – ‘Oh, this is on you.’ But it’s not me that went to the McDonald’s four days later, that’s the triaging system that organises that. It’s not me that vetted Couzens and let him into the police in the first place when he’d already been known for [allegedly] committing that sort of offence.
“Everyone’s dropping it down on me as a young female PC, and [not] all the top brass and men who are higher up who have put the rules in place for this to all happen as it did, regarding the appointments, and the actual policies and the processes.”
After admitting she made some errors - adding said nothing she could have done "would have changed the tragic outcome" - the disciplinary hearing concluded her dishonesty amounted to gross misconduct.
The former constable appeared at the hearing at Palestra House after she was accused of failing to make "the correct investigative inquiries" over two incidents where Couzens exposed himself to female members of staff at a McDonald's restaurant in Swanley, Kent, on February 14 and 27 2021.
On both occasions, Couzens was seen by female members of staff to have his pants open and his penis on display.
Ms Lee attended the restaurant on March 3 and interviewed manager Sam Taylor, hours before Sarah Everard was kidnapped by Couzens in Clapham, south-west London.
The former officer is alleged to have lied about her actions when later questioned about the interview, as she claimed she believed that CCTV at the restaurant was deleted automatically so there would be no footage of Couzens or the offence.
Throughout her evidence Ms Lee maintained Mr Taylor told her he did not have any CCTV of the incident.
She told the tribunal that Mr Taylor explained that a photo is taken of the driver when a car pulls up to the order box of the drive-thru, but it is deleted after the driver collects their order.
On Thursday, Ms Lee said: "I accept now that there was CCTV and that I should have asked more questions about it."
However, she told the tribunal there was nothing she could have done that would have stopped Couzens from kidnapping and murdering Ms Everard.
"I accept that I could have done more around CCTV and evidence gathering, that was errors on my part and I accept that," she said.
"And as much as I have thought it over and over, I don't believe that anything I could have done would have changed the tragic outcome of what happened later that day."
Ms Lee is alleged to have breached the force's standards on duties and responsibilities as well as honesty and integrity.
If she is found to have committed gross misconduct, she could be banned from serving in the force again.
She denies the allegations.
The misconduct hearing is being held at Palestra House in Southwark, south London.