Deputy Met Police commissioner asks Priti Patel to review Cressida Dick’s ousting

Sir Steve House says Sadiq Khan did not follow ‘due process’ but mayor’s office denies accusatoin

Lizzie Dearden
Home Affairs Editor
Wednesday 23 February 2022 14:40
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Deputy Metropolitan Police commissioner demands review of Cressida Dick's ousting

The deputy Metropolitan Police commissioner has asked Priti Patel to review the ousting of Dame Cressida Dick.

Sir Steve House told London’s police and crime committee that Sadiq Khan did not follow the necessary procedures in the run-up to the commissioner’s sudden resignation on 10 February.

“There’s a clear procedure in statute laid down to allow the removal of a chief officer,” he said.

“It’s not been followed in this instance, it’s not even been initiated. Due process has not been followed and instead we’ve seen matters played out in the media.

“Because of this I’ve written to the home secretary to ask her to have a review carried out of the events that have taken place.”

A spokesperson for the mayor of London said Sir Steve’s comments were incorrect, and that Dame Cressida’s decision to step down meant there was no need for a statutory process.

They pointed to the precedent set in 2008, when Sir Ian Blair resigned as commissioner after losing then-mayor Boris Johnson’s support.

A Home Office spokesperson said the home secretary would respond to Sir Steve’s letter in due course.

Dame Cressida said she was “left no choice” but to resign after Mr Khan expressed a lack of confidence in her leadership.

The mayor of London had demanded a plan for addressing issues with the Metropolitan Police’s culture and public confidence following a damning report into misogynist and racist behaviour at Charing Cross police station.

It came after a succession of scandals including the murder of Sarah Everard, which sparked two ongoing inquiries.

The Independent understands that Dame Cressida submitted her response, but Mr Khan was unhappy with its contents and did not believe the commissioner had grasped the scale of the problems.

The commissioner had been due at a regular meeting with the mayor of London at 4.30pm that day but did not attend and informed him of her resignation instead.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick inspects police cadets at a passing out parade in Hendon

Sir Steve said he and many officers were “very surprised” at the events, adding: “Only a few months ago the mayor was a strong advocate for a three-year extension for this commissioner’s contract.”

Dame Cressida was due to leave her post in March but was given a two-year extension by the home secretary, to run until 2024.

Her sudden resignation left the Home Office scrambling to start a recruitment process, which is expected to take months.

Sir Steve said the “indefensible” messages sent by officers at Charing Cross police station had been under investigation for four years and that the mayor’s office for policing and crime (Mopac) had been briefed.

“The text messages cannot have been a surprise to the mayor,” he added. “I feel extremely sad, sad for my boss that her police career and lifetime of public service ended in this way.”

Sir Steve said Scotland Yard accepts the “grave impact of recent events” and was committed to rooting out officers with “abhorrent and unacceptable views”.

He urged the public to “look beyond the headlines” and defended the force’s work to combat violence, terrorism and day-to-day crime.

But Dame Cressida’s departure had been celebrated as an important step towards accountability by women’s groups and justice campaigners.

Sophie Linden, the deputy mayor for policing and crime, told the committee Mr Khan was “not satisfied with the scale and urgency” of Dame Cressida’s response.

“This isn’t just a case of a few headlines and media reports,” she added, saying that official surveys showed Londoners’ confidence in the Metropolitan Police “plummeting” since 2017.

A spokesperson for the mayor of London said trust was “nearly at an all-time low following a series of devastating scandals involving police officers, including evidence of misogyny, racism, sexism, homophobia and bullying”.

“The mayor is democratically elected by millions of Londoners and it is his job to hold the police to account – and he will continue to do so,” he added.

“The mayor is now working with the home secretary on the process to appoint a new commissioner at the Met, who understands the scale of the problem and who will take the necessary action to restore trust in the service.”

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