London’s police force, reeling this week from the exposure of a serial rapist in its ranks, said Thursday that two retired officers had been charged with child sex offences.
The charges came after another Metropolitan Police officer, still serving as a chief inspector, was found dead a week ago before he could also be charged in the same case.
Jack Addis, 63, and Jeremy Laxton, 62, will appear before magistrates in central London on February 9, the Met said.
Addis was charged with conspiracy to distribute or show indecent images of children. Laxton faces the same charge, as well as others including making indecent photos of a child.
They both left the Met over a decade ago but came under suspicion during the investigation into serving officer Richard Watkinson, 49, whose body was found the same day he was due to answer bail in the case.
“Chief Inspector Watkinson was facing extremely serious and concerning charges, as the result of a painstaking and thorough police investigation,” Met Commander Jon Savell said in a statement.
But he stressed that Watkinson, who was suspended from the force after his arrest in July 2021, had not faced any other criminal or conduct matters during his Met career.
– ‘Root-and-branch review’ –
Britain’s biggest police service has faced savage criticism after David Carrick pleaded guilty to 24 counts of rape against 12 women and a string of other sex offences over two decades.
The Met had failed to act on prior allegations levelled against Carrick, who served in an armed unit protecting MPs and foreign diplomats.
Public trust had already suffered from the conviction of Wayne Couzens, who served in the same Met unit as Carrick, for killing Sarah Everard as she walked home in south London in March 2021.
The Conservative government has ordered all of Britain’s police forces to redouble their efforts to root out any officers accused of corruption, sex crimes or other offences.
But opposition Labour leader Keir Starmer — a lawyer and former chief prosecutor in England and Wales — demanded radical reform of the Met, including possibly changing its name.
Changes would have to be comparable to the total makeover of Northern Ireland’s police force after a 1998 peace settlement in the troubled territory, he told “The News Agents” podcast.
“It needs a root-and-branch review, cultural change, because this is not just the perpetrators, it’s those that have allowed this to happen, move them around, not taken action when they should have done,” Starmer said.