Met Police chiefs were so worried the news of Wayne Couzens’ murder charge would leak that the boss of the killer’s own unit learned about it from the media.
The revelations, contained within Baroness Casey’s review of the force, highlight how far trust had been eroded by the time of Sarah Everard’s killing.
Sarah, 33, was raped and strangled by serving Met officer Couzens. Baroness Casey’s investigation into the culture within the force branded it “institutionally racist, sexist and homophobic”.
And it found that the force may have more officers like Couzens.
Her damning review, published last week, also assessed the publicity strategy around his prosecution.
It comes as toxic cultures at other forces across the country are being put under the spotlight.
Association of Police and Crime Commissioners chair Marc Jones said the need for “strong and effective public oversight and governance for policing across the whole of the UK has never been greater”.
And last night Baroness Casey said she had been amazed at the “level of delusion” she discovered in New Scotland Yard, the Met HQ.
She suggested the drinking water should be called “House Met”, as it was infused with optimism.
She told the Times: “I don’t know what happens when they come through the door and they get into the lift.”
“It’s like they’re drunk on House Met. They can’t see anything outside.”
“And these are potentially good people.” She also pushed back on Met Commissioner Mark Rowley, who had questioned her use of the term “institutional” in relation to racism, sexism and homophobia.
Sir Mark said that the phrase is ambiguous.
But Baroness Casey said: “Doreen Lawrence lost her son 30 years ago. It was a racist murder. Why can’t you give Doreen Lawrence that? And then his wings would fly, everybody would be under him. And he will be able to go forward in a very, very different way.”
She added: “He potentially has missed his moment and I worry for him.”
The Casey review was sparked by the shocking murder in which Couzens used his warrant card to lure Sarah into his car in March 2021.
One former senior officer branded the Met’s response to his murder charge as “astonishing and awful”, her report said. She wrote: “The Met’s investigation into the murder of Sarah Everard was praised [by the Couzens case judge] as ‘the most impressive police investigation I have encountered in the 30 years I have been sitting as a part-time and full-time judge’.
“However, at an organizational level, the response regarding the arrest and subsequent conviction of the murderer of Sarah Everard was unequal to the seriousness and magnitude of the fact that a serving officer was responsible for such awful crimes.
“It was as if they had been taken by surprise.”
A former senior officer told the review the Met’s response when the officer who murdered Sarah Everard was charged was ‘astonishing and awful’. They went on to say that very few people knew he was going to be charged because the Met were worried about leaks.
“We were told a senior officer responsible for the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection command at the time found out about the charge by reading it in the newspaper.” On the morning of the conviction of Couzens, 50, a former Met Detective Chief Inspector undertaking media interviews stated the force “do not view” the murderer “as a police officer”.
Baroness Casey, 57, who attended around 350 meetings during her year-long review, warned it could take at least five years to fix problems at the beleaguered force.
She said progress should be fully reviewed against her recommendations after two years and again after five.