Priti Patel slams ‘abhorrent and inhumane’ Met cops who shared snaps of murdered sisters on WhatsApp – and says force ‘badly let down’ their family
- Home Secretary Priti Patel told police they needed to ‘raise the bar”
- Comes after PCs Deniz Jaffer, 47, and Jamie Lewis, 32, admitted misconduct
- They were in court for image of murdered sisters taken and shared on WhatsApp
- Another three officers are facing misconduct proceedings over that picture
- Their official guilty pleas yesterday sparked further criticism of Scotland Yard
- Ms Henry and Ms Smallman’s bereft mother said Met needs to ‘get the rot out’
- She described Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick’s case handling as ‘shoddy’
- It prompted a second apology from the country’s most senior police officer
- Dame Cressida has been criticised after a series of Met scandals in past years
Home Secretary Priti Patel read the riot act to police chiefs today as she branded the Met cops who took and shared pictures of two murdered sisters ‘abhorrent and inhumane’.
The top level minister, 49, spoke out at the quarterly National Police Board, of which Commissioner Cressida Dick is a member.
She told the assembled policing heads they had to ‘raise the bar’ and make themselves ‘beyond reproach’.
Mrs Patel spoke out after PCs Deniz Jaffer, 47, and Jamie Lewis, 32, admitted misconduct after pictures were taken of murdered Bibaa Henry, 46, and Nicole Smallman, 27, and shared with 42 colleagues.
Three more serving Met Police officers are under investigation over another photo of a different dead body from January 2020 at a scene being guarded by the force.
Another trio are also facing misconduct proceedings over the image of Ms Henry and Ms Smallman.
The Home Secretary’s comments mark the Government’s most senior intervention in the criticism engulfing Dame Cressida.
Yesterday she apologised for the second time over the sisters’ murder investigation after their moth called her handling of the case ‘shoddy’ and told her to ‘get the rot out’.
A spokeswoman for the Home Office told MailOnline: ‘The actions of the police officers were abhorrent and inhumane.
‘Our thoughts go out to Bibaa and Nicole’s family, who have suffered so much and should never have been so badly let down by those involved.
‘The police must raise the bar and ensure their actions are beyond reproach – the public expects nothing less and while work to put things right is underway, the Home Secretary has reminded them of their responsibilities at the National Policing Board today.’
They did not answer a direct question on whether Mrs Patel still had full confidence in Dame Cressida.
Home Secretary Priti Patel during a visit to Thames Valley Police Training Centre in Reading
Met Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick this morning has come under criticism of the force
Unmasked: PC Jaffer, 47, was charged with misconduct in a public office over the pictures
Pc Jamie Lewis leaves the Old Bailey, after pleading guilty to misconduct in a public office
PC Jaffer and Lewis were supposed to protect the scene after the sisters were found stabbed to death in Fryent Country Park in Wembley, north-west London.
But instead, they breached the cordon to take ‘inappropriate’ and ‘unauthorised’ photographs of the bodies, which were then sent ‘to a dentist and doctor’, and a WhatsApp group.
Jaffer took four photographs and Lewis took two – one of which was sent to a female colleague with Lewis’s face superimposed onto it.
Police watchdog the IOPC later revealed Lewis also used ‘degrading and sexist language’ to describe the victims in the WhatsApp team group of 42 colleagues.
As Dame Cressida Dick apologised for the second time, Ms Henry and Ms Smallman’s bereft mother Mina slammed the Met Commissioner for the botched investigation into her daughters’ deaths.
She criticised, ‘Her shoddy way of behaving and her response since all of this has come out’ adding: ‘She has not contacted us to say I am really sorry. She has not spoken into this story at all.
Ms Smallman said the Met was ‘beyond hope’, adding: ‘You go to London to start to prepare the funeral of your dead children and are told that police officers that should have been protecting the area had actually taken selfies and sent them out to a dentist and a doctor and a WhatsApp group.’
Following their guilty pleas, the Met said it was taking ‘immediate steps’ to put former PC Jaffer, who has resigned from the force, and PC Lewis before accelerated misconduct hearings.
Met Commissioner Dick said yesterday: ‘I deeply regret that at a time when they were grieving the loss of their loved ones who were taken in such awful circumstances, they faced additional distress caused by the actions of two police officers.
‘What former PC Jaffer and PC Lewis chose to do that day was utterly unprofessional, disrespectful and deeply insensitive. I know that is the view of colleagues across the Met who utterly condemn this behaviour.
‘They have pleaded guilty today to a serious criminal offence and sentencing will follow in due course.
‘I apologised to Bibaa and Nicole’s family in June last year and, on behalf of the Met, I apologise again today.
‘Now that the judicial process has got to this stage, we are able to take the officers through an accelerated misconduct process.’
Jaffer, 47, of Hornchurch, east London, and Lewis, 33, from Colchester, Essex, had been arrested as part of a criminal investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) watchdog.
The charge against each of them stated that ‘without authorisation he entered a crime scene he had been assigned to protect, sending information about his attendance at the scene to members of the public via WhatsApp and taking photographs of the crime scene’.
The sisters’ mother Mina Smallman, who has described the officers as ‘despicable’, sat in court for the hearing.
Paul Goddard, from the CPS, said outside court: ‘Pc Jamie Lewis and Pc Deniz Jaffer’s senseless conduct fell way below that to be expected from police officers.
‘These officers were tasked with protecting a tragic crime scene.
‘But instead they violated it for their own purposes, with no regard to the dignity of the victims, or the harm they might do to a murder investigation.
‘Their thoughtless and insensitive actions have no doubt caused immeasurable further distress and pain to the heartbroken family and friends of Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry who were already left reeling from the loss of their loved ones. Our thoughts are very much with them at this time.’
The pair, attached to the Met’s North East command unit, were both suspended from duty following their arrests on June 22 last year.
Jaffer, of Hornchurch, east London, and Lewis, from Colchester, Essex, are on unconditional bail.
On Thursday the mother of Ms Henry and Ms Smallman vowed to stop their killer ever being released from prison.
Mina Smallman said justice had been done for her ‘beautiful girls’ as their ‘deluded’ killer was locked up for at least 35 years.
Mrs Smallman had looked on while Danyal Hussein sat with his back to the court as he was jailed for life via video link from Belmarsh prison.
Speaking outside the Old Bailey, in central London, Mrs Smallman condemned the 19-year-old, who had stabbed her daughters to death after making a pact with a devil.
On his behaviour in court, she said: ‘It’s all a performance. There is nothing wrong with him. He’s just an obnoxious human being.’
She went on: ‘He is a broken human being who, if he had not been caught, four other families may have been suffering what we have.
‘Well he ain’t out there now and I think he is so deluded, come 35 years’ time they will not let him out.
‘I will not let them.’
Mrs Smallman went on: ‘There will be no celebrations here but justice has been done.’
She called for a review of the law, after the court heard that Hussein could not be handed a whole life order because of his youth.
She praised the Metropolitan Police for bringing Hussein to justice, saying she did not ‘cast a whole organisation by one particular sort of incident’.
But in the wake of a critical police watchdog report on the handling of the sisters’ missing persons report, she said there was an ‘underground that has infiltrated and is growing in our Metropolitan Police’.
Artist impression of PC Jamie Lewis and PC Deniz Jaffer appearing at the Old Bailey yesterday
Nicole Smallman, 27, and Bibaa Henry, 46, who were stabbed to death in Wembley last year
Murderer: Danyal Hussein, 19, who killed sisters Bibaa Henry, 46, and Nicole Smallman, 27, seen here in his police mugshot
The sisters (above), who had been celebrating Ms Henry’s birthday with friends, were found the following day by Ms Smallman’s boyfriend
Mina Smallman, mother of the two victims looking on as Danyal Hussein appears in the dock at the Old Bailey, where he would try to intimidate and provoke her. She refused and would smile and wink back
She also thanked the media who had followed the case, saying: ‘Everybody is worth knowing about.’
On her daughters, she said: ‘They were beautiful, beautiful girls.
‘Bibaa left behind a daughter who has given birth to a son in the last year and I am a great grandmother.’
She said Ms Henry had been an ‘amazing’ social worker but she grieved for her younger daughter Ms Smallman more because ‘she had 20 years less than Bibaa’.
She added: ‘Good girls – I’m really proud of them.’
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