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Priti Patel faces demands for statutory inquiry into murder of Sarah Everard

Priti Patel

Priti Patel faces demands for statutory inquiry into murder of Sarah Everard

Priti Patel is facing demands from opposition politicians to announce a statutory inquiry into failings that allowed a serving Metropolitan police officer to kidnap, rape and murder Sarah Everard.

After announcing that an investigation would examine why Wayne Couzens had not been identified by the force as a sexually aggressive predator, the home secretary was told by both Labour and SNP it would fall short because it would not have legal powers to compel witnesses to testify or disclose documents.

Couzens was known among former colleagues as The Rapist and he had exposed himself on two occasions.

Addressing the Conservative party conference, Patel said the killing “exposed unimaginable failures in policing”. She is yet to announce who will lead the non-statutory inquiry.

“It is abhorrent that a serving police officer was able to abuse his position of power, authority and trust to commit such a horrific crime. The public have a right to know what systematic failures enabled his continued employment as a police officer. We need answers as to why this was allowed to happen,” she said.

“I can confirm today that there will be an inquiry to give the independent oversight needed to ensure that something like this can never happen again.”

Nick Thomas-Symonds, the shadow home secretary, said: “Labour has been calling for a full independent inquiry for days. Now the home secretary has half-heartedly announced one, but not put it on a robust, statutory footing to ensure there are no barriers in the way to getting answers.”

The SNP’s justice and immigration secretary, Anne McLaughlin, said: “Right now it is not set to be a statutory inquiry, and there must be a statutory inquiry.”

A source close to Patel said that a statutory inquiry would give Couzens the opportunity to apply to be a core participant in the inquiry, which would be wholly inappropriate. “We will start the process as a non-statutory inquiry and see where it goes,” the source said.

In June, the chair of the inquiry into the unsolved murder of private investigator Daniel Morgan, Baroness O’Loan, said her inquiry was hampered and witnesses did not give evidence because it was not statutory.

“We could not compel witnesses to testify, nor could we compel the Metropolitan police to disclose documents in a timely manner,” she said.

The Labour peer Baroness Shami Chakrabarti has tabled an amendment to the police bill which would compel the home secretary to set up a statutory inquiry.

“If we needed a judicial inquiry for racism in 1997, we certainly need as much for misogyny in 2021,” she said.

The inquiry represents a change of direction for the government and will increase pressure on Cressida Dick, the Met police commissioner.

Boris Johnson said on BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday that there was no need for an inquiry.

The culture of the Met has been under scrutiny since it emerged that Couzens was known by colleagues to have a history of sexual aggression towards women. He was known as The Rapist while working at the Civil Nuclear constabulary in Kent by colleagues, who also knew he liked rape pornography.

Questions have been raised about the Met’s vetting processes after it emerged Couzens was allowed to continue serving despite having been investigated by Kent police in 2015 for indecent exposure.

He used his warrant card and police-issued handcuffs to get Everard, 33, into a car before raping and strangling her and burning her body in woodland in Kent.

The first part of the inquiry would examine Couzens’ previous behaviour and establish a definitive account of his conduct leading up to his conviction, as well as any opportunities missed, drawing on the ongoing Independent Office for Police Conduct investigations, a Home Office statement said.

The second part will look at specific issues raised by the first part, which could include vetting practices, professional standards and discipline, and workplace behaviour.

Last week, it was revealed that five serving officers, including three from the Met, were under investigation for sharing racist and misogynistic messages with Couzens on a WhatsApp group.

A freedom of information request showed that more than half of Met officers found guilty of sexual misconduct over a four-year period to 2020 kept their jobs, a total of 43 officers out of 83.

Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, wrote to Patel on Friday with a request to work together to hold Dick and her force to account and to restore public trust, his office said. They spoke again on Sunday evening after it emerged that another Metropolitan police officer, PC David Carrick, had been charged with rape.

Khan said the inquiry must address cultural issues within the force.

“All police officers must adhere to the highest possible standards; we must stamp out misogyny, sexism, racism and homophobia, root out those who abuse their trusted position as officers,” he said.

Patel also plans to write to the independent police inspectorate to commission a thematic inspection, including police forces’ ability to detect and deal with misogynistic and predatory behaviour. She has asked for initial findings by the end of 2021.

Dick, who was given a two-year extension to her contract last month, has rejected calls to resign over Everard’s murder. On Monday she ordered a review of the Met’s culture.

In a separate development, Johnson angered lawyers by claiming that the conduct of defence lawyers is responsible for the low level of rape convictions.

“The defence is too often able to produce a spurious or otherwise reason why the defendant might have thought consent was given,” he said on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Jonathan Black, a former president of the London Criminal Courts Solicitors’ Association, wrote on Twitter: “Did I just hear @BorisJohnson on @BBCr4today blaming the delays in justice on defence seizing upon mobile phone evidence ? I flipping did.”

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Gov Bago signs Executive Order on Niger Green Economy

Governor Umaru Bago of Niger State has signed an Executive Order on the Green Economy.

The Executive order which was titled ‘the Niger State Green Economy Initiative Order (No.3), 2023’ provides that the Green Economy Initiative shall be driven by the State Blueprint that details the strategic pillars and outlines the strategic key performance indicators, targets and timelines of the transition into a green economy.

Also enshrined in the Order, Niger State Government shall produce a State-Wide Land Use and Economic Development Plan to guide investment decisions and ensure investments that would stabilise the green transition are properly coordinated and planned.

The Order further directed all the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the State to adhere strictly to the initiative, adding that appropriate sanction will be carried out on any violator of the Executive Order.

Singing the Executive Order shortly before the commencement of the weekly State Executive Council (SEC) Meeting at the Council Chambers, Government House, Minna, Governor Bago explained that the Executive Order was to ensure the effective implementation of the Green Economy Policy.

Governor Bago appreciated Media Practitioners for the wide coverage given to his administration and encouraged them not to relent.

Recall that the Present administration initiated the Green Economy Policy, and hosted the first summit on initiative with the view to turn around the economy of the State and engender socio-economic development.

According to the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Bologi Ibrahim, “With the signing of Executive Order Three, the initiative has come to stay and its implementation is sacrosanct.”
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COP28: President Tinubu Meets King Charles in Dubai

President Bola Tinubu on Thursday met with King Charles III of England in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Both of them are in the country to participate in the United Nations Climate Conference known as COP28 taking place in the Emirati city.

Tinubu posted a message on his X account, on the meeting, describing the king as passionate climate advocate.

He posted: “I had a productive meeting with His Majesty, King Charles III of England who is also the Head of the Commonwealth, and a passionate climate advocate.

“The meeting was a significant step in strengthening the partnership between Nigeria and the United Kingdom, and I am optimistic about the positive impact our joint efforts will have on our planet’s future as we look forward to setting an equitable global standard for environmental stewardship at COP28.”
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Police Rescue Abducted Plateau Pastor, Three Others in Bauchi

Operatives of the Nigerian Police, Bauchi State Command have rescued four kidnapped victims including a pastor. 

The victims were kidnapped by bandits who invaded Raddi village via Bassa Local Government Area of Plateau State on Wednesday, November 29.

The state Police Public Relations Officer, Ahmed Wakil, a Superintendent of Police, disclosed this in a statement made available to journalists.

Wakil said the bandits had stormed the house of one Yakubu Makeri, of Yagi village via Rahama ward, to attack him but a team of operatives attached to Rishi Police Divisional Headquarters in conjunction with local vigilantes swiftly moved to the scene and engaged the bandits in a gun battle.

The statement read, “On November 29, 2023, at about 1am, one sabitu ‘m’ of Kadade village via Toro LGA of Bauchi State reported that on the same date at about 12.30am, an unknown number of bandits invaded their village and stormed the house of one Yakubu Ya’u Makeri, male, of Yagi village via Rahama ward.

“A team of operatives attached to Rishi Police Divisional Headquarters in conjunction with local vigilantes swiftly moved to the scene and engaged the bandit.

“The operatives overpowered the bandits in a gun duel. As a result, one of the bandits was neutralised while the remaining scampered and abandoned their mission.

“However, during the encounter, the operatives succeeded in rescuing three kidnapped victims, namely: Pastor Bala, male (50), Keziya Ayuba (50) and Sunday Ayuba, (40) all of Raddi village via Bassa Local Government Area of Plateau State.

“The aforementioned victims were confirmed to have been kidnapped from their village in Jos, Plateau State.”

Wakil stated that the Commissioner of Police has ordered the Divisional Police Officer to intensify wider patrol across the area in a bid to arrest the fleeing bandits so they can face the full wrath of the law.

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