Cressida Dick: what did Sir Tom Winsor’s report say about her resignation, and how has Sadiq Khan reacted?

Dame Cressida Dick said when announcing she was stepping down she was left with “no choice” after Sadiq Khan said he had no confidence in her leadership.

Dame Cressida Dick “felt intimidated” into stepping down as head of the Metropolitan Police in February after an ultimatum from mayor of London Sadiq Khan, according to a report which found due process was not followed.

The then commissioner of the UK’s biggest police force faced “political pressure” from Sadiq Khan, according to a review of the circumstances surrounding her resignation by ex-chief constable of constabulary Sir Tom Winsor.

However, Mr Khan said the review by Sir Tom Winsor into the circumstances of Dame Cressida’s resignation as Metropolitan Police Commissioner was “clearly biased and ignores the facts”.

But what did the report say, and what has the Met Police said about it? Here’s what you need to know.

Former Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick with Mayor of London Sadiq KhanFormer Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick with Mayor of London Sadiq Khan
Former Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick with Mayor of London Sadiq Khan

Why was the report being carried out?

Dame Cressida announced her plan to step down in February after Mr Khan expressed his displeasure at her handling of the response to racist, misogynist and homophobic messages shared by a group of officers based at Charing Cross police station. A series of other scandals had also rocked the Met.

And Dame Cressida had come under fire after the murder of Sarah Everard by a serving Met Police officer.

The former commissioner said she had to resign after Mr Khan made it clear he had lost confidence in her leadership.

Dame Cressida left her post in April and she is due to be replaced by Sir Mark Rowley.

As her tenure came to an end her deputy, Sir Stephen House, wrote to Home Secretary Priti Patel “expressing grave misgivings” that due process had not been followed.

Ms Patel commissioned Sir Tom to carry out a review into the circumstances surrounding her resignation. In her final days in office, Dame Cressida warns against the “politicisation of policing”.

What were the findings of the report?

The report said: “In my view, in this case, the commissioner faced political pressure from the mayor to resign, that pressure being of a character and intensity which was effectively his calling on her to leave office, outside the established statutory procedure and contrary to the wider legislative scheme.”

Deputy Met Commissioner Sir Stephen House wrote to the Home Secretary “expressing grave misgivings due process not having been followed” after Dame Cressida announced she would resign.

Sir Tom said: “I have concluded that he was correct,” adding that “none of the statutory steps set out in section 48 of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011” were followed when the mayor called on Dame Cressida to resign.

He said Mr Khan, through his chief of staff, gave her an “ultimatum” on February 10 2020, adding: “If the commissioner did not attend a meeting and convince the mayor that her plan of 4 February 2022 would be improved, he would make a statement to the media.

“That statement would make clear that he no longer had trust and confidence in the commissioner, and that he intended to start the statutory process for her removal.

“When the commissioner did not attend that meeting, the mayor’s chief of staff reiterated the mayor’s position and gave her less than one hour to decide what to do.

“She felt intimidated by this process into stepping aside, and I can understand that.”

Sir Tom, who stepped down from his post leading HMICFRS in March, concluded “due process was not followed” and although the commissioner is not an employee of the mayor, “she was in effect constructively dismissed by him”.

Sir Thomas Winsor.Sir Thomas Winsor.
Sir Thomas Winsor.

How has Sadiq Khan responded?

Mr Khan responded: “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.”

What has Priti Patel said?

In June, the Met was placed in special measures by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services.

In response to the report, Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “In thanking Sir Tom for his report, 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.”

Ex-Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick (image: PA)Ex-Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick (image: PA)
Ex-Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick (image: PA)

How has Dame Cressida responded?

The former commissioner said: “I regret this report was necessary but I hope 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.

“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.”