Published: 18:53, 15 March 2021
| Updated: 20:10, 15 March 2021
A Met officer guarding the scene where Sarah Everard's body was found allegedly shared an "inappropriate" message about her death with colleagues on WhatsApp.
The probationary PC was stationed at the cordon near Great Chart when the image, the details of which have not been made public, is said to have been shared on the instant messaging site.
It is believed the "inappropriate graphic" contained offensive comments about her death.
The Met's Directorate of Professional Standards was made aware of the incident on Friday after a number of those colleagues reported their concerns following the sharing of the message the day before.
Given the context of the officer’s duties at the time, a voluntary referral has been made to the Independent Office for Police Conduct.
The officer has been removed from front-line duties while inquiries continue.
The graphic does not contain photographic images, no images of Sarah, nor any other material obtained from or related to the investigation into Sarah’s murder, the Met confirmed.
Sarah’s family have been made aware of the incident.
Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave, said: “The MPS expects its officers to behave professionally at all times and this includes how they use social media. I take allegations that any officer or officers have failed to observe these standards very seriously and have referred this matter to the IOPC.”
It is the sixth IOPC referral made as part of the investigation.
Tonight the watchdog said it would commence independent investigations into the conduct of the officer who shared the image as well as how suspect Wayne Couzens sustained two serious head injuries within 24 hours while alone in his custody cell.
Concerns about the handling of a vigil on Saturday which were raised by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan do not fall within the IOPC's remit, it said.
It comes as dozens of officers spent the day combing a square mile of Sandwich and searching the River Stour as part of the investigation.
Searches continue in Sandwich
Police also remained at the Great Chart site and at the suspect's home in Deal.
Sarah, a 33-year-old marketing executive, went missing while walking home through Clapham Common on March 3.
Her body was found near the abandoned Great Chart Golf and Leisure complex in the early hours of last Wednesday.
Serving Met diplomatic protection officer Couzens, 48 and of Deal, has been charged with kidnapping and killing Sarah and is set to appear at the Old Bailey tomorrow.
Last year the Met announced two officers had been arrested and another six referred to the IOPC after photos of the bodies of sisters Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry - aged 27 and 46 - were shared on WhatsApp.
The women, whose parents live in Ramsgate, were stabbed to death in a north London park where they had spent the evening celebrating Bibaa’s birthday.