Stephen Port inquest verdict: Police were homophobic

Officers were incompetent, negligent, unprofessional & prejudiced

Every gay person was ignored, dismissed & treated with contempt

Police failed to warn & liaise with the LGBT community & press


London, UK – 10 December 2021

“Evidence given at the Stephen Port inquest revealed the police to be incompetent, negligent, unprofessional and homophobic. Every gay person who expressed concerns about the deaths was ignored, dismissed and treated with contempt, even the partner of one of the victims. That’s institutional homophobia. The officers involved must face disciplinary action,” said human rights advocate Peter Tatchell.

Mr Tatchell expressed concerns in 2014 that the deaths were linked and probably perpetrated by a serial killer.

“Ignoring Met Police guidance, for over a year officers made no public appeals for help and gave no warnings to the LGBT+ community. There was no liaison with LGBT+ organisations or the gay press. When Galop UK and Pink News contacted the police in late 2014 they were told that the then three deaths were not foul play and there was no serial killer,” Mr Tatchell added.

“Some officers sought to explain their failings by saying they were too ’busy’ to do a full investigation. This suggests that they regarded the deaths of young gay men as a low priority.

“Ricky Waumsley, the partner of murder victim Daniel Whitworth for four years, was excluded from police discussions with the insulting and factually untrue excuse ‘you are not next of kin.’ He was denied permission to see his dead partner’s supposed suicide note for many months. Ricky says he was treated this way because ‘we were a gay unmarried couple.’ This was bare-faced police homophobia.

“Thierry Amodio, Gabriel Kovari’s ex-partner of three years, repeatedly contacted the police. But officers never responded and never took a statement from him. Instead, they disparaged his inquiries as “fishing for information.” This was typical of the dismissive tone with which every gay person was treated by the police. It turned out that Amodio had information that would have led police to Port and probably prevented his fourth murder.

“Another gay friend of Gabriel Kovari, John Pape, told me in October 2014 that he had contacted the police after the first three murders to express his concern about Gabriel’s death and that of the other two men. Anxious for his own safety, he mentioned the possibility that they were murdered and that the three deaths might be linked. The police advised him that there was nothing to worry about; suggesting that the deaths were not murders and not connected. After initial contact with the police, he heard nothing back from them. Pape said he tried to get updated information from the officers but says it was very difficult. The police struck him as not interested and not helpful.

“To have three young gay men found dead in public places in mysterious, unexplained circumstances – all within a few hundred yards of each other and within the space of three months – should have triggered alarm bells among officers.

“From the outset, the police investigation fell far short of thorough and robust.

“Appallingly, even after the third murder the police were still maintaining that the deaths were ‘unusual’ but ‘not suspicious.’ They did not issue a public alert to the gay community that a serial killer could be on the loose. This failing ignored Met Police best practice advice which was agreed two decades ago, after previous serial killings of gay men.

“The police appeal for public information came in October 2015 – a year too late. Four young men were already dead. This appeal should have been made in August 2014 after the first two killings. If the police had done this, further deaths may have been prevented. Two of these men might still be alive.

“The police let Stephen Port slip though their fingers. He was arrested after the body of Anthony Walgate was found in June 2014 and was later jailed for perverting the course of justice in relation to his death. Astonishingly, officers accepted at face value Port’s explanations concerning the death of Walgate.

“Police failed to adequately check the hand-writing on the fake Daniel Whitworth suicide note, which had been penned by Port to cover up the murder. As far as we know, there was no finger-print and DNA testing of the note, which may have led direct to Port, given that he had been previously arrested and imprisoned for untruths about his links with Walgate.

“The police mishandling of the Stephen Port murders echo their previous failings in other serial killings of gay men, including those by Dennis Nilsen, Michael Lupo and Colin Ireland. The lessons from those sub-standard investigations have still not been learned.

“Although police relations with the LGBT+ community are vastly better than two decades ago, this case is a wake-up call regarding the on-going homophobia and sub-standard investigations by some officers,” said Mr Tatchell.