Sadiq Khan has defended his performance as London’s police and crime commissioner, including in relation to the resignation of former Metropolitan Police commissioner Cressida Dick, and described the use of legal powers to force him to attend a forthcoming meeting of the London Assembly’s police and crime committee to be questioned about Dick’s departure as “politically motivated”.
In exchanges with Susan Hall, leader of the Assembly Conservative group, during Thursday’s Mayor’s Question Time session at City Hall, the Mayor rejected accusations that he had failed to act quickly enough on concerns he says he’d had about the Met. And asked by Hall if he was “confident that all the processes and procedures were followed properly regarding the former commissioner’s departure,” he said, “Yes I am”.
Hall’s questioning followed the publication last month of a review of the circumstances surrounding the departure of Dick, commissioned by the now former Home Secretary Priti Patel, which found that Khan “did not follow due process, and at times his behaviour was oppressive, unreasonable, entirely unacceptable and unfair” and that Dick was “intimidated” into stepping aside. Khan has strongly rejected the review’s criticisms, including in advance of their release.
Quoting the Police Reform and Responsibility Act (20111) which defines his responsibilities Khan told the Assembly he had fulfilled the legal requirement for him to ensure that the Met is “both efficient and effective” and to hold its commissioner to account “both for their performance and for the exercise of the functions of persons under their direction and control”.
A meeting of the Assembly’s police and crime committee last month voted narrowly to issue Khan with a summons notice to attend a future meeting to discuss the review, which was conducted by Tom Winsor, who was chief inspector of constabulary until March of this year. Conservative AMs were joined by a Liberal Democrat to form the majority required to take the step which, as Hall pointed out, has made him “the first Mayor to have been summonsed to the police and crime committee using this power”.
However, Khan retorted that the “so-called summons is politically motivated” and said he was “more than happy” to go before the committee. “You could have just picked up the phone and rung me,” he said, though Hall begged to differ.
The role of police and crime commissioner is included within the duties of London’s Mayors and delegated to the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime, currently headed by deputy mayor Sophie Linden.
Rebutting Hall’s complaint that he had failed to act robustly enough over failings he says he had detected in the Met, Khan cited an action plan he had ordered for increasing trust and confidence in the Met, published in November 2020, his appointment of a victims’ commissioner, the creation of a child protection oversight group and his request that inspectors looked at the Met’s mishandling of its investigation of serial killer Stephen Port.
In June, the police inspectorate began formally monitoring the Met, a measure taken when a police service “is not succeeding in managing, mitigating or eradicating” causes of concern. Khan told the Assembly this development had “served to underline” what he believed the situation was with the Met and his view that “wide ranging reforms are needed”.
He expressed confidence that new commissioner Mark Rowley, who had made his first appearance before the police and crime committee the previous day, would bring these about. Rowley had told AMs that the Met had not been “robust and determined enough” about maintaining high standards.
Also at Mayor’s Question Time, responding to Tory AM Tony Devenish asking him how he and Rowley would work together to prevent Just Stop Oil protesters blocking streets in the capital, Khan said the Met had taken “swift action” over the weekend when bridges across the Thames were blocked, and told Devenish: “I don’t think they’re encouraging people to join their cause with some of the examples you refer to. If a fire engine gets delayed going to a fire and that leads to loss of life, how does that benefit the Just Stop Oil campaign?”
The whole of Mayor’s Question Time can be watched here.
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