Priti Patel says top prosecutor will lead Sarah Everard murder inquiry

Priti Patel announces Scotland’s former top prosecutor Dame Elish Angiolini will lead inquiry into the murder of Sarah Everard

  • Dame Elish Angiolini will chair the two-part inquiry into murder of Sarah Everard
  • Everard was raped, murdered by serving police officer Wayne Couzens in March
  • He was given a whole life order for the crime, meaning he will never be released
  • Home Secretary Priti Patel said the inquiry should give Everard’s family ‘closure’  

Sarah Everard (pictured) was raped and murdered by serving Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens in March

Home Secretary Priti Patel has announced Scotland’s former top prosecutor Dame Elish Angiolini QC will lead the inquiry into the murder of Sarah Everard. 

Everard was raped and murdered by serving Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens in March after he used his police issue handcuffs and warrant card to stage a fake arrest so he could kidnap the 33-year-old marketing executive.    

Dame Elish will chair a two-part inquiry – the first to establish a comprehensive account of Everard’s murderer Wayne Couzens’ conduct throughout his career in policing, including looking for whether any red flags were missed and whether allegations made against him were properly handled.

It will draw on ongoing investigations by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS). 

The second part of the inquiry will look at specific issues raised by part one, which will report to the Home Secretary as soon as possible.   

Home Secretary Priti Patel has announced Scotland’s former top prosecutor Dame Elish Angiolini QC (pictured) will lead the inquiry into the murder of Sarah Everard

Ms Patel, who branded Couzens a ‘monster’, said the inquiry will proceed on a non-statutory basis in a bid to give Ms Everard’s family ‘closure as quickly as possible’. 

She added Dame Elish may be given greater powers if she feels unable to fulfil her remit for the independent inquiry. 

Ms Patel told MPs: ‘Statutory inquiries can be long-running with limited flexibility, sometimes recommendations are not made for a number of years.

‘However, I will not rule out converting this onto a statutory footing should Dame Elish feel that she’s unable to fulfil the terms of reference on a non-statutory basis.

‘Sarah Everard’s life was ended too early by an evil man whose job it was to protect her.

‘We owe it to her and her loved ones and her family to prevent something like this from ever happening again.’

Ms Patel, who branded Couzens a ‘monster’, said the inquiry will proceed on a non-statutory basis in a bid to give Ms Everard’s family ‘closure as quickly as possible’

Earlier confirming the appointment, Ms Patel said: ‘Dame Elish is an exceptionally distinguished lawyer, academic and public servant.

‘Her extensive experience includes a review of deaths in police custody, as well as a review for the Scottish Government on the handling of complaints and alleged misconduct against police officers.’

Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds welcomed the appointment, but added: ‘Put it on a statutory footing now.

‘The Daniel Morgan Inquiry was on a non-statutory basis and still took eight years so time is not the argument not to do it.’

Dame Elish said in a statement: ‘I am deeply honoured to have been asked to chair this vital inquiry, which comes at a pivotal moment for policing.

‘The murder of Sarah Everard was profoundly shocking and I will ensure that the issues raised from this dreadful tragedy are fully investigated and the necessary lessons learned.’

Dame Elish was Lord Advocate of Scotland from 2006 until 2011 after serving as Solicitor General from 2001 – the first woman to hold either post. 

As Lord Advocate Dame Elish targeted improvements to Scotland’s youth courts, the domestic violence court in Glasgow, and the drugs courts. 

She has worked on several high-profile investigations since leaving the post – including a probe into the disposal of baby ashes at Mortonhall Crematorium after it emerged at least 250 infants cremated there with unrelated adults were buried in secret. 

Following the 2013 scandal, she conducted an investigation into all crematoria across Scotland. While in 2015, Dame Elish chaired a review of how the Crown Prosecution Service and Metropolitan Police service investigate and prosecute rape cases in the capital. 

The QC was appointed by the Scottish government in 2018 to review how police handle complaints against officers and investigate allegations of serious misconduct.   

Dame Elish worked on an investigation into the disposal of baby ashes at Mortonhall Crematorium (pictured, the main chapel at the crematorium in Edinburgh) after it emerged at least 250 infants cremated there with unrelated adults were buried in secret

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