Mother of murdered sisters says Met's apology is 'hollow'

Devastated mother of two sisters who were murdered in London park feels Met Police apology for ‘unacceptable’ investigation is ‘hollow’ and she is not the only person to have suffered ‘mental anguish’ at hands of force

  • The Metropolitan Police will apologise to the family of two murdered sisters 
  • Bibaa Henry, 46, and Nicole Smallman, 21, were stabbed to death in Wembley  
  • Probe by IOPC found no evidence of discrimination in the search for the sisters
  • But the Met Police will apologise to Mina Smallman for its ‘unacceptable service’

 The mother of two murdered sisters has said an apology from the Met for their inadequate response when they were reported missing ‘just won’t do’.

Mina Smallman told her MP that the apology would feel ‘hollow’ and that she is not the only person to have suffered ‘mental anguish’ at the hands of the Met Police. 

The force is due to apologise to Mina and the family of Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry for its response when they were reported missing which a report found was ‘below the standard that it should have been’. 

Nicole, 27, and Bibaa, 46, were brutally stabbed to death by a teenage Satanist in Fryent Country Park in Wembley, in June, while out celebrating a birthday.

Danyal Hussein, 19, was convicted of their murder in July after a jury found him guilty of the savage attack. 

The report by the Independent Office of Police Conduct said no misconduct was found by an officer and two members of police staff but there will be action taken over their performance, which was found to be inadequate. 

There was no suggestion racial bias played any part in how the missing persons reports were dealt with, it added.

But Mina Smallman, the mother of the two murdered sisters, has said apologies are passive and what is needed is an act of repentance if the Met hope to right their wrongdoing. 

Speaking on behalf of the family, Labour MP Barry Gardner, for Brent North, told Radio 4’s Today programme that Mina was in ‘absolute anguish’ at the report.

He said: ‘Her concern was for others. She told me we are not the only parties who have suffered mental anguish at the hands of the Met.

‘She said they’d been incompetent, reprehensible, that they had a blatant disregard for the agreed procedures – the official procedures that related to missing persons.’  

Nicole Smallman (left) and Bibaa Henry (right) were last seen dancing to music with fairy lights around 1am on June 6 after celebrating Bibaa’s birthday with friends in Fryent Country Park

Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman taken from Bibaa’s phone in Fryent Country Park that night

Mina Smallman, the mother of Nicole Smallman, speaking outside the Old Bailey in London after Danyal Hussein was found guilty of murder

Mr Gardner continued: ‘Quite frankly I think she feels that sorry just won’t do. She thinks it’s hollow.’

He said that Mrs Smallman, a former Archdeacon for the Church of England, feels that ‘active repentance’ is needed rather than a passive apology.  

He added: ‘She feels that this is words, it’s not actions and is not going to change things for the future.’

Mrs Smallman also disagrees with the report’s findings there was no racial bias in the way the investigation was treated.

Mr Gardner said: ‘Mina feels there was racial profiling and misogyny in the way the Met acted.

‘This is not simply one isolated failure. There have been repeated failures of the Met but there is clearly an extremely disturbing sub culture that has been allowed to thrive and it must be rooted out and nothing short of that is going to satisfy those people whose lives have been damaged by it.’ 

The women were reported missing on June 6 when they failed to return home, but police failed to launch search efforts. It was a search led by the family on June 7 that discovered their bodies close to their last-known location. 

The IOPC investigation found that the service provided by the Met in this investigation was ‘unacceptable’.

It said the inspector closed the police logs after receiving information about the sisters’ possible whereabouts from a family member, but that information was ‘inaccurately’ recorded by a communications supervisor.

This meant that missing persons inquiries for both women were not progressed properly.

The inspector told the investigation that this had been one of ‘the most challenging shifts of his career’ with 16 missing persons reports open and the North West Command Unit under capacity by almost 50 per cent due to the ongoing pandemic. 

The Met said following the investigation several members of staff must subsequently undertake ‘unsatisfactory performance procedures.’

The IOPC investigation had also considered whether the force’s response had been affected by the sisters’ ethnicity, the Met added.

Murderer: Danyal Hussein, 19, who killed the two sisters,  seen here in his police mugshot

‘After a comprehensive examination of police records, no evidence was found of stereotyping or biased assumptions based on the sisters’ race or where they lived,’ the it said.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick said: ‘My thoughts and deepest sympathies are with the family and friends of Nicole and Bibaa for their tragic losses.

‘The way we responded to information that Nicole and Bibaa were missing that weekend was below the standard we should have achieved and compounded the distress felt by their loved ones.

‘While we know that very sadly Nicola and Bibaa had been murdered in the early hours of Saturday June 6 2020, before they were reported missing, if we had responded better we may have saved their friends and family immeasurable pain.

‘I am very sorry that the level of service we provided fell short.

‘We have contacted the family to ask if they will allow me or, if they prefer, another senior officer to visit them at a time that is right to apologise in person.’ 

A MailOnline map shows where police were called to at around 1pm on June 7 to a report of two women found unresponsive 

Police received over 100 calls from the public after appeals for information (pictured, officers guarding forensics tents at Fryent Country Park near Wembley, north London on June 8)

The sisters had been part of a group of 10 people who congregated in the park from around 7pm on Friday, June 5 to celebrate Bibaa’s birthday. Pictured: An aerial showing police guarding the forensics tents in Fryent Country Park

‘The IOPC also recommended we review the processes and separate computer systems used by different call handlers, and consider whether further training should be provided to ensure all fully understand how systems operate that they might not use as frequently.

‘We have already addressed this recommendation by producing an enhanced training information pack for all call operators.’

IOPC Regional Director for London Sal Naseem said: ‘Once again my thoughts and sympathies are with the family and friends of Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry.

‘Their deaths caused unimaginable heartache, loss and grief, feelings which were heightened by the inadequate service the family and friends received from the Metropolitan Police when reporting the sisters missing.

‘Had the MPS focused on progressing the missing persons investigation it may have prevented the further distress caused to Nicole and Bibaa’s loved ones, who made the harrowing discovery after organising their own search party.

‘As well as identifying three individuals whose performance fell below the standards expected of them, this investigation also identified failings in the service provided, for which we have now advised the MPS to apologise to the family.

‘It is vital that the force addresses these shortcomings and effects long-lasting change and improvement to help restore public confidence in the MPS.’

Yesterday, devastated mother Mina Smallman has told the force ‘the time for apologies has long gone’.

She told Channel 4: ‘No one was taking it seriously. There was no search put in place by police. Our phone calls were being disregarded. 

‘There was no action at all… Biba wasn’t even on as a missing person on the Sunday after we’d made calls on the Saturday. And you know, it’s shameful. It’s shocking that. 

‘Right from the very beginning, they knew they were looking for two girls, two women of colour. I’m trying to understand.  Why they didn’t follow procedure? What could the explanation be?’ 

In August, family and friends of the sisters staged at a vigil at the scene of the incident on what would have been Ms Smallman’s 29th birthday.

Large crowds lit candles and laid flowers to honour all women lost to male violence. 

Both PC Jamie Lewis and PC Deniz Jaffer are charged with misconduct in public office

Two police officers alleged to have shared photos of the sisters’ bodies said they were ‘sorry beyond measure for the pain they have caused’ after being charged with misconduct in public office on May 27. 

Pc Deniz Jaffer, 47, and Pc Jamie Lewis, 32, are charged with taking ‘non-official and inappropriate photographs’ at the crime scene before sharing them on WhatsApp between 7 and June 23, 2020.

Ms Smallman told the BBC at the time that the pictures ‘dehumanised’ her children.

Nicole and Bibaa were targeted at random by Hussein, who proceeded to attack the sisters as they took selfies with fairy lights.

Hussein had earlier made a blood pact with a demon to ‘sacrifice women’ in return for winning the lottery. 

After being linked to the murder through DNA and CCTV evidence, Hussein was arrested at his mother’s home, where officers made the disturbing discoveries in his bedroom.

The blood pact, which stated he carry out the killings and evade the attention of police, was found along with various Satanic symbols.

The letter was signed with his blood and tucked inside were three lottery tickets.  

Detective Chief Inspector Simon Harding said that the Met ‘had never seen in any murder case before’.

He was convicted of two counts of murder and possession of a knife following a trial at the Old Bailey on July 6.  

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