Cressida Dick: Scandals that brought down Met Police commissioner’s career
Revelations of misogyny, racism, homophobia, and criticism of a “toxic” culture within the ranks forced the leadership to apologise on multiple occasions in just the last few months.
Metropolitan Police commissioner Dame Cressida is set to exit the force following her shock resignation.
It comes after London mayor Sadiq Khan withdrew confidence in her leadership, despite Dame Cressida vowing just hours earlier that she had “absolutely no intention” of leaving.
And her downfall followed a turbulent period of scandal engulfing Scotland Yard.
LondonWorld has broken down the Met Police scandals that brought down Dame Cressida.
Dame Cressida joined the Met in 1983, as a constable in west London.
She became an inspector, worked at Thames Valley Police, and was made a Met commander.
In 2011, she was made assistant commissioner, overseeing security for the 2012 Olympics in London.
After a spell as acting deputy commissioner, she took a job in the Foreign Office.
In 2017, she returned as the Met’s first female commissioner, vowing to overhaul the force.
Shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes
In July 2005, Dame Cressida was gold commander during an operation which saw the death of Jean Charles de Menezes, an innocent 27-year-old Brazilian man, at Stockwell Tube station.
Wrongly thought to be a terror suspect, he was repeatedly shot in the head by police.
His family urged against her top appointment, calling his death a “dark stain” on the Met.
Criticism from Stephen Lawrence’s family
Neville and Doreen Lawrence, Stephen’s parents, were angry that Dame Cressida pushed for the retirement of a detective who helped convict two of their son’s killers.
They were later devastated at her decision to close the case, despite three of Stephen’s alleged attackers remaining at large.
In 2019, Dame Cressida was referred to police watchdog the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) over her handling of Operation Midland.
The investigation into allegations of child sex abuse by British elites culminated with not one arrest and saw fraudster Carl Beech jailed for 18 years for perverting the course of justice.
Murder of Sarah Everard
Serving police officer Wayne Couzens, reportedly dubbed ‘the rapist’ by Met colleagues, was given a whole life sentence for her rape and murder, which saw him exploit Covid-19 regulations to trick her into complying with a fake ‘arrest’ and get into his car.
Dame Cressida faced criticism for failing to reckon with the force’s misogynistic culture.
Clapham Common vigil policing
Organisers stepped back but women gathered anyway. Officers breaking up the demonstration were accused of manhandling attendees.
Activist and student Patsy Stevenson made headlines when her photo pinned to the ground by officers went viral and has since become an outspoken advocate for police reform.
Daniel Morgan report
Investigators also personally censured Dame Cressida for obstructing access to evidence, saying Morgan’s family were owed an apology.
His brother Alastair has long called for the commissioner to quit her position.
Photographs of Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry
In December 2021, officers Denis Jaffer and Jamie Lewis were jailed for almost three years for photographing the bodies of murdered sisters Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry.
Their mother, the Venerable Mina Smallman, the first black British archdeacon, called for Dame Cressida to leave the force, saying: “It’s time for her to go.”
She said their actions, including describing her daughters as “dead birds”, were “utterly unprofessional, disrespectful and deeply insensitive".
Stephen Port inquests
In December 2021, inquests into the murders of Anthony Walgate, 23, Gabriel Kovari, 21, Daniel Whitworth, 22, and Jack Taylor, 25 - by ‘Grindr killer’ Stephen Port in Barking, in 2014 and 2015, found police failings “probably contributed” to three of the four deaths.
The men’s families criticised the force after they were forced to investigate their deaths themselves, and say they dealt with homophobic attitudes from officers.
Knife crime and teenage murders
In 2021, the highest ever number of young people slain on the city’s streets saw 30 young boys killed in a knife crime epidemic.
The commissioner was criticised for saying crime was falling - aside from teenage stabbings.
‘F***ing nutter’ comments
In January 2022, a commander who called a pregnant colleague a “f***ing nutter” was sacked.
A misconduct panel heard west area chief Ch Supt Paul Martin, told a colleague to “get a life and die” and claimed another’s pregnancy led her to talk too much.
The revelations and dismissal came amid a slew of other misogyny scandals for the force.
Dr Konstancja Duff strip search
The Met had to apologise in January 2022 for “sexist, derogatory language” used during the 2013 stripsearch of Dr Duff, in which officers joked about her hair, smell and underwear.
The force paid a £6,000 settlement to the assistant philosophy professor who was arrested after handing a legal advice card to a teenager who had been stopped by the police.
She likened the strip search to a sexual assault and said the experience was “dehumanising”.
Spy cops payout
That same month, the Met was ordered to pay almost £230,000 to Kate Wilson, a Scottish environmental activist deceived into a relationship with an undercover officer.
Called the ‘spycops’ scandal, Ms Wilson was in a two-year intimate relationship with officer Mark Kennedy, which was said to have “grossly debased, degraded and humiliated” her.
Charing Cross report
One read: “Getting a woman into bed is like spreading butter. It can be done with a bit of effort using a credit card, but it’s quicker and easier just to use a knife.”
Senior officer Bas Javid said: “I read their messages with increasing disgust and shame.”
‘Toxic’ Charing Cross sex claims
LondonWorld exclusively revealed the watchdog is probing an ex-officer’s bombshell claims that police slept with women - including suspects - at Charing Cross police station.
Cops at the West End station called black officers “monkeys” and one had sex with an arrested woman, amid a “toxic” culture dating back to 2006, a former constable has alleged.
The ex-officer told LondonWorld of a “awful” atmosphere, claimed male cops had “sex with females”, and made “cruel and sexual comments” about women - while leaders were “silent”.
The Met was accused of failing to investigate lawbreaking at No 10 Downing Street during the pandemic, when the public were living under stringent Covid-19 restrictions.
It came after repeated claims of lockdown-busting social gatherings in and around Whitehall.
The claims are now the subject of inquiries by senior civil servant Sue Gray, and are being looked into by the Met, with relevant parties set to be interviewed by officers in coming days.
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