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Worboys ruling gives legal boost to families of victims of gay serial killer

Solicitor hails ‘a positive day for victims in their fight for justice’.

Lawyers for the families of the victims of a gay serial killer have welcomed a landmark ruling holding police liable for serious failings in their investigations.

Andy Petherbridge, who represents relatives of the victims of Stephen Port, welcomed Wednesday’s Supreme Court judgment, where a panel of five judges rejected an appeal by the Metropolitan Police.

In a case linked to the inquiry into black cab rapist John Worboys, the force had argued that imposing a duty of care on officers in relation to their investigations would have an adverse impact on operational effectiveness.

Mr Petherbridge said: “This is a very bad day for the Metropolitan Police Service as there are likely to be many more claims from victims of violent crime, but a positive day for victims in their fight for justice.”

Port, 41, was handed a whole life sentence after a jury found he had surreptitiously given his victims fatal doses of date rape drug GHB before dumping their bodies near his flat in Barking, east London, over 15 months.

Stephen Port

The families of Anthony Walgate, 23, Gabriel Kovari, 22, Daniel Whitworth, 21, and Jack Taylor, 25, have jointly instructed specialist lawyers as the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) continues its probe into the handling of the case.

Mr Petherbridge added: “This is a significant decision for the families of Anthony, Gabriel, Daniel and Jack. We have begun civil claims against the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) on behalf of the families.

Daniel Whitworth, 21, Jack Taylor, 25, Anthony Walgate, 23, and Gabriel Kovari, 22, were victims of serial killer Stephen Port (Metropolitan Police/PA)

“These include a claim under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights relating to inhumane and degrading treatment. Therefore, I would expect today’s judgment to have a positive bearing on our case.  This could also strengthen any claims by survivors assaulted by Port.”

The Metropolitan Police has already been widely criticised over the inquiry and admitted “missed opportunities” to catch the killer sooner.

A total of 17 officers are being investigated by the IOPC over the case, seven of whom could face the sack if found to be guilty of gross misconduct.

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