Sadiq Khan did not follow ‘due process’ in sacking Cressida Dick as Met Commissioner, report finds

·5-min read
Sadiq Khan did not follow ‘due process’ in sacking Cressida Dick as Met Commissioner, report finds

Sadiq Khan acted beyond the bounds of the law by effectively sacking Dame Cressida Dick as the Met Commissioner earlier this year, an official report by the former police watchdog has concluded.

Sir Thomas Winsor said the Mayor had not followed “due process” in removing his support from Dame Cressida in the wake of a series of scandals and had not acted “in accordance with the legislative scheme, still less its spirit.

Sir Thomas added that Mr Khan had also ”failed to respect the dignity of the Commissioner as an individual, and as the holder of high public office” in a damming assessment of the Mayor’s conduct in ousting Dame Cressida.

She resigned in February after Mr Khan, who has defiantly defended his actions, went on the media to announce that she had only days to produce an action plan showing how she intended to restore public confidence in her force.

But Dame Cressida resigned soon after when the Mayor made clear that he was not satisfied with the blueprint she had drawn up.

Her deputy Sir Stephen House accused the Mayor of acting unlawfully and complained to Home Secretary Priti Patel, who ordered the report by Sir Thomas published on Friday.

In it, he denounces the Mayor’s actions, stating that “due process was not followed by the Mayor of London and the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime in their taking of actions which led, to Dame Cressida Dick stepping aside as Commissioner. She was in effect constructively dismissed by him.”

Sir Thomas, who was HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary, Fire and Rescue Services until earlier this year, continued: “Those acting on behalf of the Mayor told the Commissioner that the Mayor intended publicly to announce his loss of trust and confidence in her, and that he intended to commence the statutory removal process, on the afternoon of 10 February 2022.

“The Commissioner was given a very short period in which to consider her position following that news. She was left in a position whereby she felt, even if others might have felt differently, that she had no option but to announce that she would step aside, in part to protect the Metropolitan Police itself.

“The Mayor’s actions failed to respect the dignity of the Commissioner as an individual, and as the holder of high public office.

“He did not act, in particular on 10 February 2022 itself, in accordance with the legislative scheme, still less its spirit.”

Sir Thomas was also asked to consider whether any changes are needed to either the role of the Met, which includes leading national counter-terrorism policing, or the dual responsibilities of the Home Secretary and the Mayor for the force.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said she welcomed the report (PA Wire)
Home Secretary Priti Patel said she welcomed the report (PA Wire)

He concluded, however, that it should remain as they are, although he makes a number of recommendations in relation to the removal of a Commissioner, saying that these would “improve the checks and balances of the system …and make a Mayor think twice before engaging in inappropriate conduct”.

In response, Mr Khan said: “Londoners will be able to see that this review is clearly biased and ignores the facts.

“On the former Commissioner’s watch, trust in the police fell to record lows following a litany of terrible scandals. What happened was simple – I lost confidence in the former Commissioner’s ability to make the changes needed and she then chose to stand aside.

“Londoners elected me to hold the Met Commissioner to account and that’s exactly what I have done. I make absolutely no apology for demanding better for London and for putting the interests of the city I love first. I will continue working with the new Commissioner to reduce crime and to rebuild trust and confidence in the police.”

Dame Cressida said she regretted that the report was “necessary” but hoped it will “help create a sounder foundation for my successors”.

“Sir Tom has written a highly detailed and forensic account of the circumstances surrounding my departure,” she said.

I hope this report is an opportunity for others to reflect on how City Hall functions and is held to account

Dame Cressida Dick

The former commissioner added: “He found the mayor did not follow due process and at times his behaviour was oppressive, unreasonable, entirely unacceptable and unfair.

“At all times I sought to uphold the law and act ethically and with goodwill, professionalism, openness and trust. I fully respect the need for democratic oversight of policing. It is also important that politicians respect due process and do not break the rules.

“I hope this report is an opportunity for others to reflect on how City Hall functions and is held to account. The Met is a fantastic police service that is admired across the world.

“It performs many important functions for London and the country. Its officers and staff face many challenges.

“They can only succeed on a bedrock of independence and impartiality.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel said she welcomed the report and added: “I hope now that those responsible for delivering policing in London – as well as those responsible for holding the Met to account – will concentrate their efforts on delivering safer streets for the capital and restoring integrity in policing.

“Public confidence in the Met has been dented by a series of appalling incidents and it is vital that failings are addressed and professional standards restored to the level that Londoners deserve.

“The police need to ensure that they get the basics right, which should include a relentless focus on cutting neighbourhood crime and the serious violence that has blighted too many communities.”

The Mayor’s loss of confidence in Dame Cressida, who he had earlier backed reappointing for a two year contract extension starting in April, followed a succession of scandals including the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard by the then serving officer Wayne Couzens and the racist and misogynistic conduct of some officers at Charing Cross Police Station.

The new Commissioner, former head of counter-terrorism Sir Mark Rowley, taks up his new job later in September.