Khan forced to appear at City Hall hearing over Dick departure

Cressida Dick said to have been ‘intimidated’ into leaving role in charge of Met Police, reports Joe Talora, Local Democracy Reporter

Former Met Police boss Cressida Dick (left) and London mayor Sadiq Khan (right)
Former Met Police boss Cressida Dick (left) and London mayor Sadiq Khan (right)

Sadiq Khan will be formally summonsed to appear in front of the London Assembly to answer questions about his role in Cressida Dick’s resignation as Metropolitan Police commissioner earlier this year.

The mayor of London is required to attend the session by law and could face a fine or three months in prison if he fails to attend.

It comes following the approval of a motion proposed by the City Hall Conservatives at a meeting of the London Assembly’s police and crime committee on Thursday, 29th September which called for a special meeting on 16th November to scrutinise Sadiq Khan over Cressida Dick’s resignation.

Khan will be the first sitting mayor to be summonsed in this way through a unique power granted to the police and crime committee under the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011.

Also invited to attend the meeting is Sir Tom Winsor, who published a report earlier this month which concluded that Cressida Dick felt “intimidated” into resigning as Met Police commissioner following “political pressure” from Sadiq Khan.

Khan accused the report of being “biased” and said it “ignores the facts”, adding that he had “lost trust” in the former commissioner following a “litany of terrible scandals”.

Former home secretary Priti Patel and former Met commissioner Cressida Dick will also be invited to attend the meeting, though the London Assembly is unable to summons them in the same way it can the mayor.

Assembly Conservative leader Susan Hall, who proposed the motion on Thursday, said: “The Sir Tom Winsor review has raised important questions about the circumstances under which the former Metropolitan Police commissioner stood down.

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“The London Assembly police and crime committee has statutory powers to summons the mayor, which we have used for the first time today.

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“We believe that given the seriousness of the review’s findings, the mayor needs to address the unanswered questions that have emerged. The public will rightly want to know what happened and what lessons need to be learned for the future.”

The motion was agreed by a vote of five to four, with the three Labour members and one Green member of the police and crime committee voting against it.

Labour’s Unmesh Desai said: “Summonsing the mayor is a power that this committee should use wisely, rightly and properly. I think it’s important we follow proper procedures and processes, and I would the make the same point if the mayor was of a different political colour.

“Summonsing the mayor would give the wrong impression that he doesn’t want to come. I propose that we take this matter forward in two ways. We should invite the mayor and ask for an answer, say, within the next seven days, and I’m sure that he would accept that invitation. If he does not accept that invitation, then we should consider summonsing him.”

Conservative assembly member Neil Garratt said: “The mayor says in this matter that he acted properly and he says he can justify his behaviour, and it is our job as the assembly to scrutinise that and to test that. The forum to do that is here and for us to do that he has to be here and he is never here, to my knowledge, at this committee.

My view is if he is willing to come here it makes no difference if he is formally summonsed or just asked nicely, and my sense is that the Labour group want to ask nicely so that he can decline and then he doesn’t want to come here and answer questions in case his story unravels.”

A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said: “The mayor’s focus is on working with the new reforming commissioner to build a safer London for everyone, rebuild trust and confidence in the police and support Sir Mark to drive through the urgent reforms and step change in culture and performance Londoners deserve.

“Londoners elected the mayor to hold the Met commissioner to account and that’s exactly what he has done. The mayor makes no apology for demanding better for London and putting its interests first.”

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