Jurors at an inquest into the deaths of the gay men murdered by serial killer Stephen Port could be questioned on their “moral attitudes”, a court heard Thursday (24 September).
Between 2014 and 2015, Stephen Port raped and killed four men – Anthony Walgate, Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth and Jack Taylor. He met his victims on queer dating apps like Grindr, and murdered them by administering fatal quantities of GHB.
Port is currently serving a life prison sentence for the murders.
Two previous inquests into the deaths of Port’s victims were quashed after police discovered new evidence.
A supposed suicide note was found in Whitworth’s hand, claiming he accidentally killed his lover Kovari and had decided to take his own life. However Whitworth and Kovari had never met, and authorities finally realised that Port had written the note himself.
The fresh inquest, due to be moved from the Old Bailey to Barking Town Hall because of the number of people involved and set begin January 7, 2021, is expected to focus on why the serial killer was not stopped sooner by police.
According to the BBC, a pre-inquest review at the Old Bailey on Thursday heard that jurors may be quizzed on their “moral attitudes” to ensure their objectivity.
Paul Clark, speaking for the victims’ families, said that the beliefs of the jurors were relevant to the inquest because they would have to decide whether there were “unjustified differences” in the way gay victims were treated by the police.
But Peter Skelton QC, on behalf of the Metropolitan Police, insisted that there was no precedent for asking jurors about their attitudes towards the LGBT+ community.
Andrew O’Connor QC advised coroner Sarah Munro QC that the matter should be considered at another pre-inquest, set to take place 20 November.
O’Connor said: “It’s an important and sensitive issue and we must strive to make the right decision.”