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

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A former solicitor general has been appointed to lead an inquiry into police failures over the kidnapping, rape and murder of Sarah Everard by a serving police officer.

Lord Advocate Dame Elish Angiolini will chair a two-part inquiry after being appointed by Home Secretary Priti Patel and following a consultation with Ms Everard's family.

The 33-year-old marketing executive's family will be kept updated throughout the inquiry, of which the terms of reference will be finalised and published soon.

Ms Patel announced last month that a non-statutory inquiry would be launched following the conviction of Met Police officer Wayne Couzens, who has lodged an appeal to reduce his whole life sentence.

Couzens, a firearms officer, used his Metropolitan Police-issue warrant card and handcuffs to snatch Ms Everard from the street in Clapham, south London, on 3 March.

He drove Ms Everard to a secluded rural area near Dover in Kent, raped and strangled her with his police issue belt before burning her body in a fridge and dumping her remains in a pond.

The Angiolini Inquiry will be split into two parts. The first will establish a comprehensive account of Couzens' conduct throughout his career in policing, including whether any red flags were missed and if allegations made against him were properly handled.

For the second part, the inquiry will look at specific issues raised by part one, which will report to the home secretary as soon as possible.

The home secretary decided the inquiry would be non-statutory to allow for it to be established and to operate as swiftly and flexibly as possible, but made clear should Dame Elish need it, the option remains to convert it to a statutory inquiry, which would have subpoena powers and ability to take evidence under oath.

Dame Elish said: "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."

Dame Elish was solicitor general for Scotland from 2001 to 2006 and served as Lord Advocate of Scotland between 2006 and 2011 before becoming principal at St Hugh's College, Oxford, and pro-vice-chancellor at the University of Oxford.

She previously led a review by then-home secretary Theresa May into deaths in police custody and a review into police complaints handling, investigations and misconduct issues at Police Scotland.

In May, Dame Elish was appointed as the new chair of the board at Reprieve, the NGO that fights against human rights abuses in courts in the UK and around the world.

Ms Patel added: "Sarah Everard's abduction, rape and murder was an unimaginable tragedy - we owe it to her and her loved ones to quickly understand what went wrong and prevent something like this ever happening again.

"The Angiolini Inquiry will shine a light on the failings that allowed a serving police officer to abuse his power in such a horrific manner and make recommendations for change within policing.

"Dame Elish will bring a wealth of legal and criminal justice expertise to this role and I am delighted she has agreed to chair the inquiry."

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