Sadiq Khan ‘told Cressida Dick it was last-chance saloon’ ahead of her departure

·4-min read

London Mayor Sadiq Khan told the former head of the Metropolitan Police that it was a “last-chance saloon” after a police officer was charged with rape days after Wayne Couzens’ sentencing, according to a new report.

Author Sir Tom Winsor said Mr Khan made the comments during a meeting on October 3 last year with Deputy Mayor Sophie Linden, Dame Cressida Dick and Deputy Commissioner Sir Stephen House.

In his report, which was published on Friday, Sir Tom says Mr Khan was “particularly concerned” an officer serving with the Met’s Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command was charged by Hertfordshire Constabulary with rape earlier that day.

The review said: “The mayor was particularly concerned that the officer had been in the same team as Wayne Couzens, who had abducted, raped and murdered Sarah Everard in early 2021, and been sentenced for these offences in late September.

Sir Tom Winsor
Sir Tom Winsor wrote the report, which was published on Friday (Joe Giddens/PA)

“There was some discussion about how the situation should be handled, both in relation to the media and to the relevant police unit.

“At the end of the meeting, the mayor said to the Commissioner and the Deputy Commissioner, ‘This is the last chance saloon. I worry about what is going to happen. You need to throw everything at this.’”

The report, which analyses the circumstances surrounding Dame Cressida’s sudden departure from the force in February 2022, was commissioned by Home Secretary Priti Patel.

It outlines the soured relationship between the former Met Police chief and the mayor in the months leading up to her resignation.

Sadiq Khan, Dame Cressida Dick and Priti Patel
Sadiq Khan, Dame Cressida Dick and Home Secretary Priti Patel (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Sir Tom’s conclusion states due process was not followed surrounding her exit and he found Dame Cressida “felt intimidated” following an ultimatum from Mr Khan.

Elsewhere in the 116-page report, Sir Tom states:

– Following the October 3 meeting, Mr Khan spoke to Ms Patel and said he had previously had confidence in Dame Cressida as the head of the Met but this had now been “shaken”. Ms Patel said she still had confidence in her but wanted to continue the conversation

– By January 2022 relations had improved between Mr Khan and Dame Cressida, with the report stating he “praised the positive work that the Metropolitan Police had been doing” and stated it was “in the strongest position it had been in since the start of his mayoralty”

– After the publication of the IOPC’s report into Charing Cross police station, known as Operation Hotton, Mr Khan and Dame Cressida had a private meeting on February 2 where he “insisted” she should dismiss all the officers involved in the scandal

– When she responded she would be legally challenged, Mr Khan said: ‘You’re wrong. Your job is to uphold the criminal law. Don’t worry about the civil law. Let them JR (judicially review) you. The public will support it’

– Mr Khan denies the claims, and says he did not understand why they remained in their jobs and that she should seek external legal advice

– At the end of the meeting, Mr Khan said to Dame Cressida words to the effect that “one or other of us is going to end up being substituted”

– Sir Tom said he believes Dame Cressida faced “political pressure from the mayor to resign” which was “outside the established statutory procedure and contrary to the wider legislative scheme”

– He added that “The commissioner was given little or no timely and proper warning that the mayor intended to secure her removal, whether by her hand or his”

– He said it was “wrong” for Dame Cressida to not attend the meeting with Mr Khan ahead of her stepping down as “professional courtesy” and “part of her obligations”

– Sir Tom said the circumstances surrounding her departure were “unjustifiably politically brutal” and “to be given under an hour to decide whether to resign or to challenge the mayor’s position was entirely unacceptable”

He also made suggestions of options for reform to be considered by the Home Secretary, but did not make any formal recommendations, adding the best outcome “is, of course, assiduous adherence to the principles and spirit of the Policing Protocol and the scheme mandated by Parliament”.

Mr Khan has criticised the review, stating that it “clearly biased and ignores the facts” and that he is expected to hold the Met Commissioner to account and “that’s exactly what I have done”.

In a letter to Ms Patel before publication, Mr Khan said his office was seeking legal advice over the draft findings of the report. It is understood this is no longer the case.

Dame Cressida said: “I regret this report was necessary but I hope it will help create a sounder foundation for my successors.”