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Families of Stephen Port's murder victims criticise IPCC investigation

By Claire McWethy
The family of a murdered Kent man have branded an independent review of the police's handling of the investigation "insulting".
 
Serial killer Stephen Port drugged and murdered four men in 15 months in the same town, including 21-year-old Daniel Whitworth from Gravesend, after meeting them on various gay dating websites. 
 
Police repeatedly refused to believe the deaths were linked and it was only when loved ones and pals started carrying out their own investigations that Port’s sick web of deceit began to unravel. 
 
The body of Daniel Whitworth, 21, from Gravesend, was found near a churchyard in Barking, on September 20 2014

The body of Daniel Whitworth, 21, from Gravesend, was found near a churchyard in Barking, on September 20 2014

A probe into Metropolitan Police Service's (MPS) handling of the investigation was launched by the Independent Police Complaints Commission’s (IPCC) after the force referred itself in October 2015.
 
But now, more than 18 months later and with none of the 17 Metropolitan Police officers under investigation having been interviewed, the relatives of Port's victims say they are losing confidence in the IPCC's abilities.
 
Mandy Pearson, Daniel's step-mother said: “We continue to seek answers and accountability from the police about how, for a whole year, they let us believe that Daniel had committed suicide, in which time Port went on to kill again.
 
“We really did hope that, with Port now behind bars, the police would be held to account for
their actions. The fact that after all this time we’re still no further forward is insulting and
distressing for all of the families. However, the MPS should know that none of us will ever
give up their search for the truth and we will keep the pressure on.”
 
Daniel Whitworth's step-mum Mandy Pearson speaks on the BBC documentary. Picture BBC

Daniel Whitworth's step-mum Mandy Pearson speaks on the BBC documentary. Picture: BBC

The families were originally told that a first draft report would be complete by the autumn of 2017, but that has been pushed back to the end of 2017, with a view to the report being finalised in early 2018. 
 
Speaking on behalf of all the families of Ports' victims, Neil Hudgell of Hudgell Solicitors, added: “ It feels like the IPCC is becoming impotent in the face of stalling by the MPS.
 
“The families feel that history is repeating itself as the MPS continues to ignore them. They
are losing confidence that the IPCC has the ability to get to the truth; the longer this drags
on, the greater the chance of evidence being lost or forgotten.”

But IPCC Commissioner Cindy Butts said the investigation team was committed to providing answers to the families and had already collected 7,000 pages worth of evidence as part of a rigorous pre-interview process.

Serial killer Stephen Port killed men he met on Grindr

Serial killer Stephen Port killed men he met on Grindr

She added: “The officers have asked for time to understand and absorb the information that will be put to them in interview, which we have agreed so that the evidence we collect from them is as robust and comprehensive as possible. The integrity of our investigation depends on getting this process right.  

"While we would have preferred to have been more advanced in our interviews with officers by this time, the investigation is ongoing and we are continuing to progress other investigative steps." 

Stephen Port was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment in November 2016 for Daniel's murder, as well as those of 22-year-old Gabriel Kovari, 23-year-old Anthony Walgate and 25-year-old Jack Taylor.

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