Sarah Everard's killer Wayne Couzens was deployed to Parliamentary Estate five times last year

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The police officer who kidnapped, raped and murdered Sarah Everard was deployed to the Parliamentary Estate five times on several occasions last year.

Wayne Couzens, who was jailed for life last week, abducted Ms Everard, 33, as she walked home from a friend's house in Clapham, south London, on 3 March.

The Old Bailey heard that he had used his position to convince Ms Everard that she was being arrested for breaching COVID lockdown rules.

It has since been revealed that he had also been linked to a flashing incident in 2015 and another one just days before he killed Ms Everard.

Couzens moved to the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command in February 2020, mostly guarding diplomatic premises, such as embassies.

On Saturday, a Met Police spokesman said he was deployed to armed static protection duties on the Parliamentary Estate five times between February and July 2020.

The estate includes the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle told The Sunday Times: "Like everyone, I have been sickened by the depravity of Wayne Couzens - and heartbroken for the family of Sarah Everard.

"I have asked the Met to meet me urgently to discuss how this person could have been deemed suitable for deployment here.

"Further, I will be seeking reassurance that at no time was anyone on the parliamentary estate put at risk.

"The security of members and staff has always been my number one priority, so I want to know how this man could ever have crossed the parliamentary threshold."

Labour MP Rosie Duffield, who felt unable to attend her own party's conference last month after receiving threats and abuse online, also told the newspaper: "It's chilling that someone whose nickname was 'the Rapist' was guarding MPs, when we are told that we are protected by a ring of steel.

"Knowing now that we had a murderer in our midst, I'm sure all women working in parliament will want to see a thorough security review."

It comes after Police Scotland announced a new verification check that will help lone officers prove they are genuine when they speak to members of the public.

But there has been criticism of the standard of vetting for police officers from those who point out that Couzens was not pretending to be a police officer when he kidnapped Ms Everard - he was one.

Conservative Party chairman Oliver Dowden told Sky News that the Metropolitan Police has "very serious" questions to answer over Ms Everard's killer and "warning signals" appear to have been "overlooked".

Speaking to Trevor Phillips on Sunday, he said Met Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick should be given time to investigate, but did not rule out the need for an independent inquiry in the future.

The Sunday Mirror reported that 26 Met Police officers have committed sex crimes - including rape and possessing indecent images of children - since 2016.

Ms Everard's case has led to calls for Dame Cressida Dick to step down in light of the erosion of trust in the force.

But former Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said public trust would not be restored through police-bashing or high-level resignations.

Mr Buckland, defending the "vast majority" of officers as "decent and dedicated people", said there were more effective ways in which this could be done, including that police and the criminal justice system needed to be more ready to admit fault.

Mr Buckland, who was Justice Secretary for two years until last month's reshuffle, wrote in The Sunday Telegraph: "Police-bashing... is not going to restore that trust, and neither for that matter is the resignation of a police officer, however senior."

"The public also needs to know that the police, who are civilians in uniform policing with our consent, are truly accountable for failure," he added.

"While the operational independence of our police force is of central importance, it should never be used as a cloak against scrutiny. If trust is to be regained, then it has to be understood that to admit fault and failure should be seen as a sign of strength, not weakness."

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was "infuriating" that cases of violence against women and girls were not being taken seriously enough by police.

Mr Johnson told The Times that the public could and should still trust the police but work was needed to "fix" how the criminal justice system handled such cases.

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