Five officers and three former officers are being investigated over their handling of the police probe into murders by serial killer Stephen Port.
The officers are being investigated for gross misconduct, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said.
In April a report from His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) warned that the Met had still not learned from its “calamitous litany of failures” in the Port case – meaning the force could have missed other murders.
The “Grindr killer” drugged his victims Anthony Walgate, Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth and Jack Taylor with overdoses of GHB and dumped their bodies near his flat in Barking, east London, between June 2014 and September 2015.
Despite what many now see as the obvious links between these deaths, it wasn’t until the final victim’s body was found, with the grieving families carrying out their own investigations, that local police finally realised they had a serial killer on their hands.
IOPC regional director Steve Noonan said: “Our re-investigation has been, and continues to be, thorough and detailed. We recognise it has taken some time to reach this stage, but these are complex matters, involving multiple officers and four investigations into unexplained deaths and then the subsequent murder investigation into Port.
“Though we have found an indication that the behaviour of these eight individuals may have amounted to gross misconduct, this does not necessarily mean disciplinary proceedings will automatically follow. Based on the evidence, at the conclusion of our investigation we will decide whether any officers should face disciplinary proceedings.”
He added that the families of the men killed had shown “considerable patience”.
Commander Jon Savell from the Met reiterated the force’s “heartfelt” apologies for its blunders in the case.
A lawyer for the families said the development was a testament to their “determination and perseverance”.
Families of three of Port’s victims had previously received payouts from the Met after settling civil claims.
Neil Hudgell, of Hudgell Solicitors, said: “The families of Anthony, Gabriel, Daniel and Jack very much welcome today’s announcement that eight officers are to be investigated for gross misconduct.
“Given the history of this case and frustrations of the past, they are cautiously encouraged by the reopening of the investigation, which must be seen to be full and fearless, and with the complete cooperation of the Metropolitan Police Service and the officers under scrutiny. No comment interviews simply will not do.
“This latest development is testament to the determination and perseverance the families have shown over the past eight years with regards to the Met Police’s investigations into the loss of their loved ones.
“We would not have reached this point without their dedication to ensuring to ensure full transparency and accountability.”
Basic errors by a string of detectives left Port free to carry out the series of murders as well as drug and sexually assault more than a dozen other men.
Inquest jurors found that “fundamental failures” by the police were likely to have contributed to the deaths of three of the men.