Priti Patel 'blindsided by Cressida resignation' sparking row with Sadiq Khan

10 February 2022, 19:02 | Updated: 11 February 2022, 06:46

Cressida Dick's resignation has sparked a row between Sadiq Khan and Priti Patel
Cressida Dick's resignation has sparked a row between Sadiq Khan and Priti Patel. Picture: Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

The shock resignation of Met Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick has ignited a row between the Home Secretary and the Mayor of London.

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Sadiq Khan did not warn Priti Patel or the Queen - who appoints the commissioner - of his intention to call Dame Cressida into a meeting that would lead to her resignation, the Daily Mail reports.

Mr Khan summoned the beleaguered police boss at 4.30pm on Thursday after he decided her plan to reform the force was insufficient - but she handed in her resignation instead of attending as requested.

According to Home Office sources, Ms Patel thought the decision to attempt the meeting without alerting her was "rude and unprofessional".

The Telegraph also reported that the Labour mayor did not alert Sir Keir Starmer of his intentions.

Dame Cressida Dick resigned as the Metropolitan Police Commissioner with "huge sadness" on Thursday evening, leaving the force to begin its hunt for a new chief.

She said she would remain in the role for a short period of time "while arrangements are made for a transition to a new Commissioner".

It will be up to Home Secretary Priti Patel and Mr Khan to work together to find Dame Cressida's successor, with more details about searching for a replacement expected in due course.

Dame Cressida said in a statement: "It is with huge sadness that following contact with the Mayor of London today, it is clear that the Mayor no longer has sufficient confidence in my leadership to continue.

"He has left me no choice but to step aside as Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service.

Read more: Who will replace Cressida? Runners and riders for Met Commissioner

Read more: Cressida Dick: The string of scandals that left the Met chief no choice but to quit

"At his request, I have agreed to stay on for a short period to ensure the stability of the Met and its leadership while arrangements are made for a transition to a new Commissioner. Undertaking this role as a servant of the people of London and the UK has been the greatest honour and privilege of my life."

Despite Mr Khan being involved in the process of finding Dame Cressida's replacement, it is Ms Patel who will make the final decision on the next appointment.

Among those expected to be in the running for the role are: Former Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, Deputy Commissioner Sir Stephen House and Chief Constable of the British Transport Police Lucy D'Orsi.

Dame Cressida's resignation came just hours after she insisted she had "absolutely no intention" of quitting her job as the Met's top cop - despite a string of criticism of her tenure.

She was tight lipped on Thursday morning as she was asked about her plan for improving London's police force by LBC's correspondent Matthew Thompson.

The commissioner refused to reply when asked if she lost the confidence of Mr Khan.

Read more: Defiant Cressida Dick vows not to quit claiming the Met is better than before

Read more: Cressida Dick given 'days and weeks' to clean up Met racism and misogyny or she's out

Mr Khan said in a statement on Thursday: "Last week, I made clear to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner the scale of the change I believe is urgently required to rebuild the trust and confidence of Londoners in the Met and to root out the racism, sexism, homophobia, bullying, discrimination and misogyny that still exists.

"I am not satisfied with the Commissioner’s response.

"On being informed of this, Dame Cressida Dick has said she will be standing aside. It’s clear that the only way to start to deliver the scale of the change required is to have new leadership right at the top of the Metropolitan Police.

Read more: Ex-Met Deputy Assistant Commissioner 'saddened' as Cressida Dick resigns

"I would like to thank Dame Cressida Dick for her 40 years of dedicated public service, with the vast majority spent at the Met where she was the first woman to become Commissioner. In particular, I commend her for the recent work in helping us to bring down violent crime in London – although of course there is more to do.

"I want to put on the record again that there are thousands of incredibly brave and decent police officers at the Met who go above and beyond every day to help keep us safe, and we owe them a huge debt of gratitude.

"I will now work closely with the Home Secretary on the appointment of a new Commissioner so that we can move quickly to restore trust in the capital’s police service while keeping London safe.”

Speaking on Thursday night, Dame Cressida recognised the damage caused by Sarah Everard's murder by a serving officer.

She said: "The murder of Sarah Everard and many other awful cases recently have, I know, damaged confidence in this fantastic police service.

"There is much to do - and I know that the Met has turned its full attention to rebuilding trust and confidence, and to raising our standards.

"I am very optimistic for the future of the Met and for London."

The Mayor of London put the commissioner "on notice" last week after a police watchdog uncovered a culture of "disgusting" rape threats, racist abuse and vile jokes about the holocaust among a group of officers at Charing Cross police station.

Mr Khan previously told LBC: "The reason I am so angry and disgusted at the revelations at Charing Cross is these aren't isolated, these aren't historic.

"They affect 14 police officers, nine of whom are still working, I'm still waiting for the Commissioner to come back to me, I meet her regularly so I'm sure I'll be seeing her later on this week."

The police watchdog said a series of investigations had found evidence of bullying and a shocking culture of racist abuse and misogyny within the ranks of the Metropolitan Police at the central London station.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said it believed the "incidents are not isolated or simply the behaviour of a few bad apples".

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Twitter: "Dame Cressida has served her country with great dedication and distinction over many decades. I thank her for her role protecting the public and making our streets safer."