Metropolitan Police officers investigating serial killer Stephen Port made assumptions about gay men which “cannot be ignored”, a leaked police watchdog report has found.
Port was convicted of murdering four gay men he met through dating websites over a 15-month period.
Victims’ relatives have expressed their fury at how the investigation was initially handled, while Ricky Waumsley, whose partner Daniel Whitworth was one of Port’s victims, has accused the Met Police of homophobia.
An Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) report, seen by Channel 4 News, says “the public cannot be satisfied that police are making decisions based on evidence and fact”, because of how assumptions made about “the lifestyles of gay men” informed investigations.
The report, which has not been published, adds: “The investigations into the four deaths reveal that assumptions were made and could have been based, consciously or unconsciously, on discriminatory views.”
The Met say the failure to catch Port sooner wasn’t down to homophobia but a lack of “personal curiosity” by their officers.
An inquest into the murders of Anthony Walgate, 23, Gabriel Kovari, 22, Daniel Whitworth, 21, and Jack Taylor, 25, last year found that three of Port’s victims would “probably” still be alive if it weren’t for police failures.
All of Port’s victims were found between June 2014 and September 2015.
Port had drugged them with overdoses of GHB and dumped their bodies near his flat, three of them in the same churchyard.
Mr Waumsley says he first heard about his partner’s death in 2014 from officers who came to his house and said Daniel had hung himself, but he was later told Daniel had died of an overdose of the drug GHB.
He says they assumed he knew what GHB was, but he had never heard of it.
“They assumed every gay guy knows what GHB is and every gay guy takes drugs,” he said. “And that’s not true.”
He added that he wasn’t seen as a next of kin to Daniel and so they would not keep him informed about the ongoing investigation.
He said: “I was absolutely devastated. I couldn’t believe the way they were treating me and the way they were treating Daniel.”
Mr Waumsley believes officers were being “homophobic” in a way that “allowed Stephen Port to carry on murdering”.
A Met spokesperson said: “In an organisation of more than 44,000 people, we have already acknowledged there will be a small number with attitudes and beliefs that are not welcome in the Met; we will challenge, educate and discipline as appropriate.”
They added: “We are concerned to hear that, anecdotally, the IOPC has learned some of our LGBT+ advisers have experienced discrimination from colleagues. This is a serious matter and we will be exploring this further.”
Producers: Charlotte Rowles and Toby Bakare