The families of four men murdered by Barking serial killer Stephen Port have expressed disappointment after an inquest was delayed.

Judge Sarah Munro is to preside over the inquest into all four deaths at Barking Town Hall which was due to start on Friday, January 8.

However, the coroner has decided to postpone the start date because of developments in relation to the coronavirus pandemic.

Solicitor Neil Hudgell, who represents the four families, said: “Anthony, Gabriel, Daniel and Jack were murdered between August 2014 and September 2015.

"Given the years that have passed you can understand why the families are so disappointed by this delay.

"However, they understand the reasons and stand ready to assist the coroner with her inquiries when the inquest opens.”

A spokesperson for the inquests said the coroner will be providing a written ruling on her decision to postpone the hearings this week which will be published on the inquests' website.

Barking and Dagenham Post: Stephen Port took the lives of clockwise from top left: Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth, Jack Taylor and Anthony Walgate.Stephen Port took the lives of clockwise from top left: Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth, Jack Taylor and Anthony Walgate. (Image: MPS)

Port, who is now 45, was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison in November 2016 for the murders of Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth, Anthony Walgate and Jack Taylor.

All four were drugged with GHB and raped by Port before being dumped near his home in Cooke Street.

The original inquests into the deaths of Mr Kovari, 22, from Slovakia, and Mr Whitworth, 21, from Gravesend, were quashed following Port’s murder conviction.

The deaths of Mr Walgate, 23, from Hull, and Mr Taylor, 25, from Dagenham, were originally treated as non-suspicious.

A focus of the inquest is expected to be on possible police failings as to why Port was not stopped sooner.

The delay follows a decision by the coroner that jurors at the inquest will not be quizzed on their views of homosexuality.

The victims' families and partner of one of the men killed wanted potential jurors to be asked whether they held beliefs against gay sex or homosexuality.

However, Judge Munro, in a written ruling last month, concluded it would be "improper, unnecessary and potentially unlawful".

A revised start date has not been announced. A pre-inquest review has been listed for January 19.