Home Secretary announces chairwoman of Sarah Everard inquiry

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An independent inquiry into Sarah Everard’s murder will be given greater powers if the newly-appointed chairwoman feels unable to fulfil her remit, the Home Secretary has said.

Priti Patel announced Dame Elish Angiolini QC, a former lord advocate of Scotland, has agreed to take up the position to chair the two-part inquiry.

Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens used his police issue handcuffs and warrant card to stage a fake arrest so he could kidnap 33-year-old Ms Everard before he raped and murdered her earlier this year.

Sarah Everard inquiry
Dame Elish Angiolini QC (Ian Wallman)

The first part of the inquiry will establish a comprehensive account of Couzens’ conduct throughout his career in policing, including looking for whether any red flags were missed and whether allegations made against him were properly handled.

It will draw on ongoing investigations by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS).

The second part of the inquiry will look at specific issues raised by part one, which will report to the Home Secretary as soon as possible.

Watch: Sarah Everard: Ex-solicitor general to lead inquiry into policing failures over rape and murder by serving officer

Ms Patel, who branded Couzens a “monster”, said the inquiry will proceed on a non-statutory basis in a bid to give Ms Everard’s family “closure as quickly as possible”.

She added to MPs: “Statutory inquiries can be long-running with limited flexibility, sometimes recommendations are not made for a number of years.

“However, I will not rule out converting this onto a statutory footing should Dame Elish feel that she’s unable to fulfil the terms of reference on a non-statutory basis.

“Sarah Everard’s life was ended too early by an evil man whose job it was to protect her.

“We owe it to her and her loved ones and her family to prevent something like this from ever happening again.”

Wayne Couzens court case
Former Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens (Met Police)

Earlier confirming the appointment, Ms Patel said: “Dame Elish is an exceptionally distinguished lawyer, academic and public servant.

“Her extensive experience includes a review of deaths in police custody, as well as a review for the Scottish Government on the handling of complaints and alleged misconduct against police officers.”

Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds welcomed the appointment, but added: “Put it on a statutory footing now.

“The Daniel Morgan Inquiry was on a non-statutory basis and still took eight years so time is not the argument not to do it.”

Dame Elish said in a statement: “I am deeply honoured to have been asked to chair this vital inquiry, which comes at a pivotal moment for policing.

“The murder of Sarah Everard was profoundly shocking and I will ensure that the issues raised from this dreadful tragedy are fully investigated and the necessary lessons learned.”

Watch: Fewer women trust police after Sarah Everard murder, survey suggests

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