Sadiq Khan is to be forced to answer questions from London Assembly members (AMs) about his role in the resignation of Cressida Dick as Metropolitan Police commissioner earlier this year under legal powers deployed by the elected scrutiny body.
Members of the Assembly’s police and crime committee voted narrowly today to make us of the power to issue a summons notice, which makes it a criminal offence not to attend an Assembly meeting without providing a satisfactory excuse.
The committee, composed of four Conservative, four Labour, one Green and one Liberal Democrat AM voted by five to four to summons the Mayor to its meeting on 16 November, when it will ask him about the findings of the recently published review for the government of the circumstances of Dick’s departure by Tom Winsor, which was critical of Khan’s handling of the matter.
The four Tories were joined by Lib Dem Hina Bokhari, who was substituting for her Lib Dem colleague Caroline Pidgeon, in voting to immediately summons Khan, rather than simply issue him with an invitation to attend to meeting, which he would have been able to decline.
Khan reacted strongly against the findings of the review by Winsor, who was Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary until March of this year, complaining to the then Home Secretary Priti Patel that its draft findings were “clearly biased”.
Caroline Russell, the Green Party member of the committee, who joined Labour AMs in voting against issuing the summons, said she was “very keen to hear from the Mayor about his views on the Winsor report,” but felt it was “unnecessary to go straight to summons”. She added that she would have supported a summons had Khan declined an invitation to attend.
Committee deputy chair, Labour’s Unmesh Desai, said he believed the summonsing power “should be used wisely, carefully and properly”, and that not making an invitation first “would give the wrong impression that the Mayor doesn’t want to come”. He proposed instead inviting the Khan and only considering summonsing him if he did not accept within an agreed time period.
Russell’s position and the balance of committee votes suggest it is unlikely that the Mayor would have turned the invitation down, even if inclined to.
London Mayors have been often been summonsed to appear before AMs before, but this is the first time the power has been used in relation to the police and crime commissioner role that comes with the job, carried out through the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime.
Conservative group leader Susan Hall, who also chairs the police and crime committee, said the Winsor review raised important questions about the circumstances under which the former Metropolitan Police Commissioner stood down. We believe that, given the seriousness of the review’s findings, the Mayor needs to address the unanswered questions that have emerged.”
One of the Labour members was unable to vote as she attended the meeting remotely, but had the outcome been five-all Hall would have been expected to use her casting vote. Patel, Winsor and Dick are to be invited to the November meeting.
A spokesperson for the Mayor 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 [Rowley] 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.”
Updated at 17:53.
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