Samantha Lee says she has been made scapegoat for crisis engulfing Metropolitan police
A former officer who botched an inquiry into Wayne Couzens hours before he kidnapped, raped and murdered Sarah Everard has said she has been made a scapegoat for the crisis engulfing the Metropolitan police.
Samantha Lee was found guilty of gross misconduct and barred from policing for life by a disciplinary panel on Wednesday.
The 29-year-old said the Met had thrown her under the bus rather than tackle the institutional and vetting failures that allowed Couzens to commit a series of sex crimes before murdering Everard. She said the force needed to respond to sexual offences reports more quickly and offer officers training on indecent exposure to prevent future scandals.
“I think it’s completely unfair that this case has been put on me when there was a chance to stop Couzens so much earlier,” Lee said. “They’ve thrown me under the bus so the Met can say ‘we’ve done something now’ and they’ll move on.”
Couzens, 50, was reported to police on 28 February 2021 after twice exposing himself to female staff at a drive-through McDonald’s in Kent. But there was a three-day delay in assigning Lee to the case because of the Met’s crime triaging process which assessed the offence as low risk.
Lee carried out a “sloppy” investigation when she visited the restaurant at midday on 3 March, nine hours before Couzens abducted Everard, 33, in Clapham, south-west London. The panel concluded she lied when she claimed she had been told there was no CCTV of Couzens’ car.
Lee has become the first officer publicly taken to task over Couzens, who was first reported to Kent police for indecent exposure in June 2015. He escaped being identified as a sex offender despite police having the registration of a car he had allegedly used to flash a pedestrian, as well as his name and address.
Lee said: “Everyone’s just coming down on me – ‘Oh, this is on you.’ But it’s not me that went to the McDonald’s four days later, that’s the triaging system that organises that. It’s not me that vetted Couzens and let him into the police in the first place when he’d already been known for [allegedly] committing that sort of offence.
“Everyone’s dropping it down on me as a young female PC, and [not] all the top brass and men who are higher up who have put the rules in place for this to all happen as it did, regarding the appointments, and the actual policies and the processes.”
While under investigation for the failings, Lee set up an OnlyFans account called Officer Naughty and quit the force. She now earns up to £7,000 a month posting pornographic videos and images on the site.
Lee maintains that she did not lie or know she was in charge of the case until after Couzens’s arrest for murder.