Sir Stephen House: Senior police officer faces watchdog investigation for allegedly calling bulk of rape complaints 'regretful sex'

A police watchdog is investigating alleged comments made by a senior officer about the "bulk" of rape complaints being "regretful sex".

Sir Stephen House denies making the remarks to a Home Office adviser at a meeting at Scotland Yard in January last year, when he held the position of deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) is looking into the accusation, which was raised earlier this month.

The watchdog's regional director Mel Palmer said: "The allegation that these comments were made by a very senior police officer is of significant public concern, which may impact on public confidence in policing and so it is important that they are subject to an independent investigation."

In a statement, Sir Stephen has said he can "categorically deny using the phrase 'regretful sex'".

He told Channel 4 News earlier this month: "These are not words I have ever used in relation to rape or sexual assault and the reason I am so certain that I did not say this is because I simply do not believe it. I find the phrase abhorrent.

"I find this characterisation of me to be deeply upsetting, and colleagues who know me know how untrue it is."

Professor Betsy Stanko, an adviser appointed by the Home Office to conduct Operation Soteria - a report on the way the police responds to rape cases - said that Sir Stephen was not taking the problem seriously when he allegedly made the comments.

She told Channel 4 News: "He used terms to describe - or a term to describe - what he thought the bulk of the rape complaints were, which was the term 'regretful sex'."

Findings from Operation Soteria declared some officers "displayed a culture of disbelieving victims".

When referring the matter to the IPOC earlier this month, Deputy Commissioner Dame Lynne Owens said: "Rape is a horrific offence that has a devastating and lasting impact. The comments included in the Operation Soteria Bluestone report are wholly unacceptable.

"We recognise that they risk further undermining the confidence of victims to come forward and that is deeply regrettable."

Sir Stephen has now resigned as a police officer and is employed by the Met as a civilian employee.

He also previously held the position of chief constable of Police Scotland, earning a knighthood in the Queen's Birthday Honours in 2013.