London mayor’s office ‘gave childish media briefing against ex-police watchdog’

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan appears before a Police and Crime Committee at City Hall,
Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, appearing before a Police and Crime Committee at City Hall earlier this year Credit: PA

The Mayor of London’s office gave an “amateurish, shoddy and childish” media briefing against a former police watchdog over his criticism of the handling of the resignation of Dame Cressida Dick, a City Hall committee has heard.

Sir Thomas Winsor published a report in September that found that Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida had been intimidated into leaving her job earlier this year.

Dame Cressida quit the role as Britain’s most senior police officer in a shock move hours after insisting that she had no intention of leaving.

Sir Thomas found that Mayor of London Sadiq Khan had not followed due process around her departure, while Mr Khan insisted he had gone beyond what the law required and accused the former inspectorate of constabulary of bias.

Giving evidence on Dame Cressida’s departure for the second time at the London Assembly Police and Crime Committee on Tuesday, Sir Thomas lashed out at a media briefing sent out by the mayor’s office to journalists ahead of his September report on the issue.

'Startled at the negativity'

He said: “I was really quite startled at how negative the briefing was and also how amateurish, shoddy and childish that it was.”

Mr Khan said that he was not aware of the detail of the briefing.

Later Sir Thomas said that an unnamed former home secretary was so angry about the treatment of Dame Cressida that they suggested a mechanism should be put in place to sack the London mayor from the role of police and crime commissioner (PCC) for the capital.

The anonymous politician proposed that a mechanism could be created to allow the Home Secretary to oust a PCC if they were found by an independent review to have forced a senior officer out of their job.

Sir Thomas Winsor appears before a Police and Crime Committee at City Hall Credit: PA

Sir Thomas told the committee: “I decided not to include it in my report, because I thought that it would distract from the rest of the report. And I don’t think that it is democratically realistic.

“This option was not one of my devising. It was given to me by a former home secretary, who was furious with what had happened in the case of Cressida Dick.”

Sir Thomas and Mr Khan both gave evidence in a bad-tempered session at the committee last month and were called back on Tuesday to answer further questions on the issue.

Former home secretary Priti Patel said she was not able to attend.

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