The police watchdog has ruled that none of the officers investigated for potential misconduct over their response to Stephen Port’s murders will be disciplined.

Barking and Dagenham Post: Stephen Port's victims clockwise from top left: Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth, Jack Taylor and Anthony Walgate. Picture: Met Police.Stephen Port's victims clockwise from top left: Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth, Jack Taylor and Anthony Walgate. Picture: Met Police. (Image: Archant)

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) found none of the police involved in the initial investigation into the Barking serial killer had breached professional standards to justify disciplinary proceedings.

An IOPC spokesman said: "While we agreed none of the officers involved in these investigations may have breached professional standards justifying disciplinary proceedings, we will be making a number of recommendations to the Metropolitan Police to address some of the systemic failings our investigation identified.

"We have advised the families of Port's victims and the officers involved that the performance of nine officers fell below the standard required. They will now be required to improve their performance."

The families of the four men killed by Port - Jack Taylor, 25, from Dagenham; Anthony Walgate, 23, from Hull; Daniel Whitworth, 21, from Gravesend and Gabriel Kovari, 22, from Slovakia - are not commenting.

The IOPC spokesman said: "Our thoughts remain with all of those affected by the tragic deaths Mr Walgate, Mr Kovari, Mr Whitworth and Mr Taylor."

He added a full report and details of the IOPC recommendations will be published at the conclusion of all court proceedings.

An inquest into the four deaths is due to start next year after a High Court judge quashed the open verdicts given into Mr Whitworth and Mr Kovari's deaths.

Dr Anton van Dellen, who is representing Mr Whitworth's former partner Ricky Waumsley, said: "My client is very disappointed that none of the police officers will face a misconduct hearing.

"He is encouraged that the main focus of the new inquests before Her Honour Judge Sarah Munro QC at the Old Bailey will be the adequacy of the police investigation into Stephen Port.

"However, he is also very concerned about the adequacy of enquiries made by coroner's officers following the preceding death of Mr Walgate which he considers had the potential to prevent the subsequent deaths."

The IOPC investigated the actions of 17 officers - seven of whom could have faced the sack if they had been found guilty of gross misconduct.

Despite the former chef being prosecuted for lying in court after pretending to stumble across the body of his first victim, Anthony Walgate, outside his Cooke Street home, police did not make a link when two more of his victims were dumped in St Margaret's churchyard - less than 500 metres from his home - in 2014.

Less than a year later, he murdered Mr Taylor, dumping his body near the church before being arrested the following month.

Port, 44, was given a whole life sentence in November 2016 after a jury found he gave his victims fatal doses of the date rape drug GHB.

The Met has been contacted for a comment.