Dame Cressida Dick “felt intimidated” into resigning as Metropolitan Police Commissioner after an ultimatum from London mayor Sadiq Khan, an independent report has found.
The review, by Sir Thomas Winsor, into Dame Cressida’s departure from the force in February also found due process was not followed.
Dame Cressida said she would step aside after evidence emerged officers at Charing Cross police station had sent racist, sexist and homophobic messages to one another.
The report found the mayor was “particularly concerned” one of the officers who sent the offensive messages had been in the same team as Wayne Couzens, the former Met officer who was jailed for life for murdering Sarah Everard in 2021.
Mr Khan then said to Dame Cressida in private that this was her “last chance saloon” and she needed to “throw everything at this”.
In his report, Sir Thomas concluded: “Due process was not followed by the mayor of London and the mayor’s office for policing and crime in their taking of actions which led, on 10 February 2022, to Dame Cressida Dick stepping aside as Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis.
“Those acting on behalf of the mayor told the commissioner that he intended publicly to announce his loss of trust and confidence in her, and that he intended to commence the statutory removal process, on the afternoon of February 10 2022.
“She felt intimidated by this process into stepping aside, and I can understand that reaction.
“The mayor’s actions failed to respect the dignity of the commissioner as an individual, and as the holder of high public office.
“He did not act, in particular on 10 February 2022 itself, in accordance with the legislative scheme, still less its spirit.”
The Met has since been placed in special measures and also suffered a backlash over its investigation of parties across Downing Street and Whitehall during COVID lockdowns.
Khan ‘oppressive’ and ‘unreasonable’
Responding to the report, Dame Cressida said: “Leading the Met and serving the people of London was a wonderful privilege. My first priority was always their safety.
“I regret this report was necessary but I hope it will help create a sounder foundation for my successors.
“Sir Tom has written a highly detailed and forensic account of the circumstances surrounding my departure.
“He found the Mayor did not follow due process and at times his behaviour was oppressive, unreasonable, entirely unacceptable and unfair.”
She added: “I fully respect the need for democratic oversight of policing. It is also important that politicians respect due process and do not break the rules.
“I hope this report is an opportunity for others to reflect on how City Hall functions and is held to account.”
Report is ‘biased’, Khan claims
Mr Khan, who was criticised by several senior police figures at the time of Dame Cressida’s resignation, responded by describing the allegations in the report as “clearly biased” and claiming they “ignore all the facts”.
He added in a statement: “On the former commissioner’s watch, trust in the police fell to record lows following a litany of terrible scandals.
“What happened was simple – I lost confidence in the former commissioner’s ability to make the changes needed and she then chose to stand aside.
“Londoners elected me to hold the Met commissioner to account and that’s exactly what I have done. I make absolutely no apology for demanding better for London and for putting the interests of the city I love first.”
Priti Patel, the home secretary, said: “Public confidence in the Met has been dented by a series of appalling incidents and it is vital that failings are addressed and professional standards restored to the level that Londoners deserve.”
Dame Cressida left her post in April and is due to be replaced by Sir Mark Rowley.