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Cressida Dick was subject to “constructive dismissal” says review

Home Office ordered review says that London Mayor told Commissioner to sack anyone investigated during Operation Hotton

Former Commissioner Cressida Dick was effectively “constructively dismissed” from the Met by London Mayor Sadiq Khan even though she was not his employee in an abuse of due process a review by former Chief HMI Sir Tom Winsor has concluded.

The report says on February 10 the Mayor's office gave an untimatum to the Commissoner that unless she attended a meeting with a better plan for restoring public confidence in the Met he would make a statement to the media stating he had lost confidence in her leadership. Dame Cressida was also given one hour to decide what to do. 

His report states: “The Mayor’s actions on 10 February 2022 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.”

He has also recommended -  in a direct challenge that will have an impact on the relationship between chief officers and regional mayors around the UK  -  that future commissioners terms of employment should be issued by the Home Secretary, not the Mayor.

He said “the accountability of the Commissioner is a function of statute not purported contract, and is not a master-servant, employer-employee one. In cases where a determined politician has created conditions which apply undue, oppressive and perhaps intolerable pressure on the Commissioner, in particular by making or threatening to make a public statement of no confidence irrespective of the grounds for doing so, or indeed without stating what those grounds may be, nothing can prevent the making of such a statement. It is therefore necessary for the political price of doing so to be as high as possible.”

Sir Tom stated that preventing this from happening in the future would require primary legislation “to make a mayor think twice before engaging in inappropriate conduct.”

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said the review by Sir Tom Winsor into the circumstances of Dame Cressida Dick’s resignation was “clearly biased and ignores the facts”.

In his report the former HMI rebukes the lack of co-operation during his review from the Mayor who he said he wrote to nine times to attend a face to face meeting.

The report is very detailed and focuses on the Commissioner’s last one to one meeting with the Mayor on 2 February following the IOPC’s publication of the long running Operation Hotton review of the behaviour of a unit at Charing Cross Police Station which the Mayor had been regularly updated on.

She said the Mayor had told her she should sack every officer investigated during the investigation and she had to explain the misconduct rules to him although Sir Tom’s report says the Mayor denies he said this.

The report states: “She said it was important to comply with the law and to be fair. The Mayor replied, she told me: “Do it anyway”. The Commissioner said she was amazed that the Mayor, himself a lawyer, should make this demand since he must understand the importance of acting correctly.”

The review states that during the meeting “the Mayor expressed shock and anger about the content of the IOPC report. The Mayor referred to how the IOPC report reminded him of the attitudes of some police officers in the 1970s and 1980s, and he said that if he were giving a statement to the media today, he would have described the Metropolitan Police at that point as institutionally racist, homophobic and sexist.

"The Mayor asked whether the Commissioner would agree; she said she did not. She told the Mayor that she was also appalled by what had happened and that she accepted there was work to be done, but that describing the Metropolitan Police in those terms would not assist.
The Mayor further expressed concern for public confidence. He made a broad statement that public attitude surveys were at rock bottom, and that he was concerned that it would be difficult for him to have confidence in the Metropolitan Police and, by extension, the Commissioner, after Operation Hotton.

“The Commissioner’s recollection of what occurred next was that the Mayor said to her that she should dismiss all the officers investigated during Operation Hotton and that that was what the public would expect. The Mayor denies that he said this; instead, he says he explained that Londoners found it inexplicable that the officers were still serving.

“Following the Mayor making this comment in the private meeting, the Commissioner says that she explained the IOPC and misconduct processes to him. She told him that upon reading the IOPC report, he would see that in the cases of some officers, the IOPC had found there was no case to answer, and in some cases the misconduct was of a lower-level nature.”

Responding to Sir Tom's review the Home Office stated: "In the report, Sir Tom states that he believes due process was not followed by the Mayor of London and the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime in the actions they took which led, on 10 February 2022, to Dame Cressida Dick stepping aside as commissioner. It also notes that the mayor’s actions were not in accordance with the relevant legislation.

"A number of recommendations for how accountability arrangements in London can be improved were also given. The government is already taking steps to strengthen the accountability and transparency of police governance through the delivery of recommendations from the Police and Crime Commissioner review.

"The Home Office will consider all of the findings Sir Tom has laid out and will bring forward any further changes we deem necessary once the findings and recommendations have been fully considered."

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