An independent inquiry into how an off-duty Metropolitan police officer was able to abduct, rape and murder a member of the public. This is to ensure the victim’s family and public get a full explanation of the causes of, and factors contributing to, this tragic and harrowing murder.

Overview

The abduction, rape and murder of Sarah Everard was a horrendous crime and has had a devastating impact on her family and loved ones. That it was committed by an off-duty Metropolitan Police officer, Wayne Couzens, abusing his position to do so, is abhorrent and risks undermining the public’s confidence in policing.

Part 1 of the inquiry will establish:

  • an overall timeline of Couzens’ career and relevant incidents, including allegations of criminal behaviour and/or misconduct
  • the circumstances and decision-making relating to his vetting and re-vetting, including whether any potential risks and/or red flags were missed
  • any other relevant matters arising from his transfers between forces
  • his overall conduct – including non-disciplinary matters, his performance and training
  • the extent to which any issues relating to his behaviour, particularly in relation to women, were known and raised by colleagues, (including professional standards and senior leaders)
  • any abuse of his police powers

The inquiry will seek to establish these through methods including, but not limited to:

  • analysis of documentation from relevant forces, including the Metropolitan Police Service, Civil Nuclear Constabulary and Kent Police
  • interviews and witness statements
  • findings from the relevant Independent Office for Police Conduct investigations

This inquiry has been established as a non-statutory inquiry but if necessary, the Home Secretary may agree to convert into a statutory inquiry, following advice from the Chair.

Scope

This is a two-part independent non-statutory inquiry. The first part is focussed on examining Wayne Couzens’ career and previous behaviour. It will establish a definitive account of his conduct, behaviour and performance leading up to his conviction, as well as any opportunities missed such as decision making relating to vetting. The second part will look at any broader issues raised by this case for policing and the protection of women.

Update from the Inquiry

Letter to the Home Secretary on the progress of the Inquiry: June 2022

Lady Elish wrote to the Home Secretary on 27 June to advise that she will be prevented from finalising and submitting her Part 1 report until ongoing criminal proceedings against Wayne Couzens, and other relevant criminal and misconduct proceedings, have concluded.

The letter from Lady Elish to the Home Secretary can be found here: Letter from Lady Elish to the Home Secretary – progress update on the Angiolini Inquiry.

Response from the Home Secretary to Lady Elish Angiolini’s letter on the progress of the Inquiry: July 2022

On 18 July, the Home Secretary responded to Lady Elish’s letter regarding the progress of the Inquiry. The Home Secretary agreed that Part 2 of the Angiolini Inquiry should proceed as soon as practically possible, without waiting for Part 1 to conclude. Part 1 cannot yet be finalised and submitted because of the ongoing criminal and misconduct proceedings relevant to the case.

An update about Part 2 has been published on GOV.UK here: Second stage of the Angiolini Inquiry to be brought forward.

The Home Secretary’s response to Lady Elish is available here: Letter from the Home Secretary to Lady Elish: update on Part 2 of the Angiolini Inquiry.

Inquiry team

Inquiry Chair

Lady Elish Angiolini LT DBE PC KC

Lady Elish will lead a two-part inquiry to address the issues raised by the abduction, rape and murder of Sarah Everard by an off-duty Metropolitan police officer.

Lady Elish has been appointed following consultation with the family of Sarah Everard, who will also be kept updated throughout the work of the inquiry.

Lady Elish is a Scottish lawyer, she was the Lord Advocate of Scotland from 2006 until 2011, having previously been Solicitor General since 2001. She was the first woman, the first Procurator Fiscal, and the first solicitor to hold either post. Since September 2012, Lady Elish is the Principal of St Hugh’s College, Oxford. She is a Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford. Since leaving office she has led several investigations and inquiries, including a review of deaths in police custody commissioned by the then-Home Secretary Rt. Hon Theresa May MP. In June 2022, Lady Elish was appointed to The Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle by Her Majesty the Queen.

Lady Elish’s appointment and the high-level terms of reference for the inquiry were announced by the Home Secretary in Parliament on Monday 22 November 2021. The terms of reference for the Inquiry were published on Monday 10 January 2022.

The Inquiry terms of reference can be found here: Angiolini Inquiry part 1: terms of reference – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Last updated on 27/06/2022