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A senior minister has suggested London mayor Sadiq Khan "played politics" by forcing Met Police commissioner Dame Cressida Dick to resign.
Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis on Sunday described Khan's sudden pressure on Dick, having previously backed her, as "rather odd".
Dick had overseen a number of scandals over the past 12 months, but had received backing from Khan as recently as September last year when her contract was extended by two years.
But following the emergence of highly offensive messages – publicised in an independent report – shared among Met Police officers, Khan put Dick "on notice" on 2 February, amid concerns about a toxic culture within the force.
Watch: Mayor's Cressida Dick pressure not 'political stunt' - Labour
Then, eight days later on Thursday, Dick quit after losing the confidence of Khan.
On Sunday, Lewis told Times Radio: “I think he should’ve been consulting with the home secretary [Priti Patel], bearing in mind this is a man who just a couple of months ago extended Cressida Dick’s contract.
“For me, yes I think he should’ve been talking to and working with the home secretary, particularly so close to a time he extended a contract himself – it does seem to be a rather odd position for him to have taken.”
Asked if he thought the mayor was playing politics, he responded: “Possibly, to be frank.”
He argued Khan was “very keen” to appoint Dame Cressida but now he “seems to have had a volte face in just the last week”.
Khan, writing in The Observer this weekend, pledged to oppose the appointment of any candidate to replace Dick who doesn't have a “robust plan” to deal with the “cultural problems” that have led to the series of scandals at the force.
He said he was “deeply concerned” public trust and confidence in the country’s biggest police force “has been shattered so badly”, which he concluded could only be rebuilt with new leadership at the top of the Met.
Meanwhile, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper rejected Lewis's criticism of Khan for not consulting with home secretary Patel over his public statements on Dick's performance.
She told BBC One's Sunday Morning programme with Sophie Raworth: “I strongly believe in the British policing model policing by consent... but that means we also have to defend it, stand up for it and also deliver reforms that will achieve it.
“At the moment, there’s been none of those reforms from the home secretary. The home secretary has been silent on policing for a year."
Khan has said he will “work closely” with Patel on the selection of Dick’s successor.
While she holds the power over the appointment, she must take the mayor's preference into account.
What will be in the new Met commissioner's in-tray?