Mother of murdered sisters says Met Police must 'get the rot out'

ITV News Correspondent Sejal Karia reports on the latest developments in the case of the two officers who shared pictures of the bodies of two murdered sisters

Mina Smallman has called on Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick to “get the rot out once and for all” after two officers admitted sharing photographs of her murdered daughters’ bodies on WhatsApp.

Pc Deniz Jaffer and Pc Jamie Lewis were assigned to protect the crime scene overnight after sisters Bibaa Henry, 46, and Nicole Smallman, 27, were found dead in bushes in Fryent Country Park, Wembley, north-west London in June 2020.

Instead, they breached the cordon to take “inappropriate” and “unauthorised” photographs of the bodies, which were then shared on WhatsApp.

'There is no such thing as one bad apple,' Mina Smallman said

Jaffer took four photographs and Lewis superimposed his own face onto a picture with the victims in the background.

He sent the doctored image to Jaffer, who forwarded it to a female officer at the scene.

Bibaa Henry (left) and Nicole Smallman (right) were celebrating Ms Henry's birthday at the time of their murder Credit: PA

Jaffer showed one of the photos to a male officer as they left the park and sent others to three friends on WhatsApp.

Lewis, who used “degrading and sexist” language to describe the victims, also shared crime scene pictures with a WhatsApp group of 40-plus officers called the ‘A Team’.

In a passionate speech outside court, Mina Smallman said: “You need to drill down and get the rot out once and for all."

Speaking ahead of an apology from Met chief Dame Cressida Dick, Mrs Smallman described the Commissioner's handling of the case as "shoddy".

"You’ll remember she came out about the selfies and said 'If this is true then it is appalling’ - well, she knows it's true.

"She hasn’t gone on camera, she hasn’t contacted us to say ‘I’m really sorry,' she has not spoken into this story at all and its shameful."

Dick said: “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.”

The victims' mother said that learning of the officers’ behaviour at a meeting with the police watchdog was the “last straw”.

Mrs Smallman said that the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) watchdog "had to tell the Met they should apologise to us in their failings of the missing persons."

She claimed the watchdog is "seriously hampered by the Met Police" and said there are laws in place that prevent "truly independent reporting".

"They cannot arrest, they cannot go into the building and just take the information that they want. They're at the mercy of when the Met says they can do what they can do. How is that independent?" she asked.

IOPC regional director Sal Naseem called for change within the force, saying the officers’ behaviour was not a one-off.

Sal Naseem, Regional Director for London at the Independent Office for Police Conduct, reads a statement outside the Old Bailey on Tuesday Credit: PA

Their actions were “sickening” and they treated the crime scene with “contempt and disrespect”, in turn insulting the victims and their family, he said.

Naseem said: “Sadly, as today’s events highlight, police officers falling below the standards of behaviour expected of them are not one-off events.

“A culture where some officers do not see anything wrong with sharing deeply offensive messages and where others feel unable or unwilling to challenge has to change, and it has to change now.”

He added that recommendations to “tackle inappropriate behaviours and cultures” at the station where Lewis and Jaffer were based had been implemented.

Jaffer, 47, of Hornchurch, east London, and Lewis, 33, from Colchester, Essex, were arrested as part of a criminal investigation by the IOPC) watchdog.

Adjourning sentencing until December, Judge Mark Lucraft QC warned the defendants they faced “lengthy” prison terms.

As the defendants left court, they declined to answer questions but Jaffer nodded when asked if he would apologise to the sisters’ family.

Pc Deniz Jaffer (left) and Pc Jamie Lewis outside the Old Bailey in London Credit: PA

During the trial, Mrs Justice Whipple banned reporting of details about the behaviour of Jaffer and Lewis, who were referred to only as Pc 1 and Pc 2.

In addition to the criminal convictions, the police watchdog found Lewis and Jaffer had a case to answer for gross misconduct.

In total, 13 officers were investigated for potential breaches of standards of professional behaviour, the IOPC said.

The IOPC has concluded a separate inquiry into how the Met handled calls from relatives and friends of the missing sisters before their bodies were discovered on June 7.

Last week, Mrs Smallman dismissed an apology from the Met after the force’s response to the deaths was found by the watchdog to be below standard.

Satanist Danyal Hussein, 19, was jailed for life with a minimum term of 35 years for murdering the sisters.