Met chief faces calls to quit over how cop nicknamed 'The Rapist' slipped through the net

30 September 2021, 13:17 | Updated: 30 September 2021, 14:31

The sentencing of murderer Wayne Couzens has piled pressure on Cressida Dick to resign.
The sentencing of murderer Wayne Couzens has piled pressure on Cressida Dick to resign. Picture: LBC/Alamy

By Joe Cook

Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick is facing mounting calls to resign, after Wayne Couzens - nicknamed 'The Rapist' by colleagues - was sentenced to life in prison for the brutal murder of Sarah Everard.

Couzens is the first police officer to ever be sentenced to a full life tariff in the UK, with the judge citing the fact he used his authority as a cop to trick Sarah into getting into his car.

Following the judge's decision, the Mother of the House of Commons, Labour MP Harriet Harman, has led calls for Dame Cressida to resign.

Read more: Met cop who raped and murdered Sarah Everard will die behind bars

Read more: Starmer tells LBC Met Police must answer how Everard's killer 'slipped through the net'

She should "recognise it's best for her to go," Ms Harman told LBC's Shelagh Fogarty. "It was on her watch that the warning signs on Sarah Everard's killer were missed."

"As soon as an allegation is made we need an immediate investigation and a prompt suspension. I didn't want to see Cressida Dick fail but it's because I want to see the changes, I want to see them taken through with energy and determination. I know she cannot do that."

In a letter to Home Secretary Priti Patel, Ms Harman wrote that the "confidence of women in the police will have been shattered" by Couzens' actions.

"It is clear that there had been all too many warning signs about him which had been swept under the carpet," she continued, in a reference to previous allegations about sexual offences committed by Couzens and the revelation that colleagues had nicknamed him "The Rapist" as he made women feel uncomfortable.

Ms Harmen's letter included seven proposals for how the police can build confidence after the shocking murder, but concluded that it is "impossible" for the current Met Commissioner to oversee this programme.

"I have therefore called for her to resign," she concluded.

Former Shadow Home Secretary Dianne Abbott added her support to the calls, tweeting: "Harriet Harman is right. Women should be able to trust the police. Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick must resign."

Earlier on Thursday, Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer called for the Met to explain how the serving police officer managed to "slip through the net" in an interview with LBC's Nick Ferrari.

"There were obviously warning signs, so how did he get through the net?"

The Independent Office for Police Conduct is currently carrying out multiple investigations into how the police handled previous allegations.

Watch: Moment Wayne Couzens falsely told police a gang made him kidnap Sarah Everard

Read more: PC says call 999 if you are stopped by a lone person claiming to be police

Both Home Secretary Priti Patel and the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan have stopped short of calling for Dame Cressida's resignation.

“The fact this heinous crime was committed by a serving police officer makes it even more disturbing," the mayor said in a statement.

"There are some serious questions that need to be answered about how we ensure something like this never happens again."

Ms Patel refused to comment directly on the commissioner's leadership, telling reporters: "It is right that we constantly hold the police to account for what has happened."

There are "serious questions that need to be answered by the Metropolitan Police," she continued, but added she will "continue to work with" Dame Cressida.

It is unlikely that the commissioner will be fired, after her contract was extended for a further two years earlier this month.