Sarah Everard killer Wayne Couzens worked as Westminster guard

Calls for all police officers to be re-vetted as advice to women on staying safe criticised

Metropolitan police commissioner Cressida Dick: Some British MPs, including Labour’s former acting leader Harriet Harman, have called for Ms Dick to resign. Photograph: David Parry/PA Wire

Metropolitan police commissioner Cressida Dick: Some British MPs, including Labour’s former acting leader Harriet Harman, have called for Ms Dick to resign. Photograph: David Parry/PA Wire

 

The Metropolitan police officer who raped and murdered Sarah Everard guarded the UK parliament at Westminster five times, it has emerged, as the force was criticised for appearing to have “overlooked” warning signs about his behaviour.

Wayne Couzens (48) worked in the parliamentary and diplomatic protection command and finished a shift guarding the US embassy hours before he carried out a false arrest of Everard on March 3rd and abducted her.

His access to Westminster came to light after the Metropolitan Police said he worked on the parliamentary estate used by MPs and ministers five times between February and July 2020.

Couzens had a pass granting him access to all areas of the Commons and Lords, according to the Sunday Times, which also reported that the Commons speaker, Lindsay Hoyle, had demanded a meeting with the Met commissioner, Cressida Dick, over Couzens’s vetting.

“I have asked the Met to meet me urgently to discuss how this person could have been deemed suitable for deployment here,” Mr Hoyle said. “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.”

Sickened

Mr Hoyle said he was “sickened by the depravity” of Couzens and heartbroken for Ms Everard’s family.

Some British MPs, including Labour’s former acting leader Harriet Harman, have called for Ms Dick to resign weeks after her contract was extended. Boris Johnson has said she should remain in post.

Oliver Dowden, the co-chair of the Conservative party, said the attack on Ms Everard was “deeply, deeply disturbing”. He added there were “kind of warning signals that appear to have been overlooked” and that it was right Ms Dick “properly investigates that”.

He said the UK government would “allow the Met commissioner to do the job of trying to sort this out and find out exactly how this happened” and did not rule out a public inquiry.

Wrong track

The Met’s response to concerns for women’s safety – which included advising people to flag down a bus if they are worried a police officer is conducting false inquiries – was also criticised by Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester.

“What I would say is that some of the statements that came out from the Met over the weekend felt like they were going down the wrong track – you know, women should wave down a bus,” Mr Burnham told Sky.

“Any answer to this issue that begins with the words ‘women should’ or ‘women must’ is, in my view, the wrong answer. This is an issue that starts with men and boys, and that is where attention should go.”

– Guardian