Inside The Downfall Of Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick

The country's most senior police officer quit after London mayor Sadiq Khan accused her of failing to deal with a culture of misogyny and racism in the force.
Sadiq Khan was due to meet with Dick but she snubbed the meeting and handed in her notice instead.
Sadiq Khan was due to meet with Dick but she snubbed the meeting and handed in her notice instead.
Illustration: Damon Dahlen/HuffPost; Photos: Getty

Dogged by scandal, failures and horrific high profile murders, some might say the writing was on the wall for Dame Cressida Dick.

Plenty had argued the Metropolitan Police Commissioner should have stood down some time ago and others had even suggested she was never the right choice for the job in the first place.

Dick’s tenure as the country’s most senior police officer ended unceremoniously last night with her reading a statement to camera, saying she had been left with “no choice”.

It was a screeching u-turn after the commissioner declared on the airwaves just hours before: “I have absolutely no intention of going.”

What happened in just a few hours? The issue centres on the Mayor of London’s confidence in her.

Sadiq Khan was due to meet with Dick at 4.30pm yesterday but she snubbed the meeting and handed in her notice instead.

Here, HuffPost UK reveals what happened between the two and the controversies that led to her downfall.

Mayor of London

Although the commissioner is appointed by the Queen - on the advice of the home secretary - the role needs the support of the mayor of London.

At the start of February a damning report by the Independent Office for Police Conduct revealed vile WhatsApp messages sent by 14 officers at Charing Cross police station in central London.

They included jokes about rape, domestic violence, the Holocaust and killing black children.

Sadiq Khan was described as “furious” over the revelations and sources say it “took him back” to the Met of seventies and eighties when he was growing up.

Khan asked Dick to come in for a “frank discussion” during which he set her two tests:

1) Root out racism, sexism, homophobia, bullying, discrimination and misogyny

2) Rebuild the trust and confidence of Londoners

In response, Dick wrote to the mayor setting out her plan for the capital’s police force. The letter has not been made public, but the mayor made it clear to the Met he was “not satisfied” with her proposal.

A meeting was scheduled between the two at 4.30pm on Thursday but City Hall sources told HuffPost UK that Dick “decided to resign and not attend that meeting”.

A City Hall source said: “It was up to her if she wanted to come to that meeting but she chose then to resign.”

They insisted Dick could have come to the meeting and said something to give the mayor confidence, but added: “She obviously felt that she wasn’t able to do that and the gap between them was just too big.”

The Met Police’s plan includes a review by Dame Louise Casey that would have taken the best part of a year. However, the mayor had given them days or weeks to show they could turn things around.

Why Did Dick Resign?

It is obvious from her statement that Dick felt she was forced out of the job by the Mayor of London.

Dick said it was “clear” that the mayor no longer had “sufficient confidence” in her leadership.

“He has left me no choice but to step aside as Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service,” she said.

But the reasons behind her resignation go far deeper and centre on the overall culture in the Met - particularly the conduct of her officers.

Of course the bad behaviour of individual police officers was not Dick’s fault, but her downfall is about what was [or was not] being done to improve the Met’s overall culture.

Even Dick acknowledged that it was not just a “few bad apples” and that the Met had a real problem with “very bad behaviour”.

The Controversies

Jean Charles de Menezes

Dick was gold commander in the room during the fatal shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes in 2005. The 27-year-old was repeatedly shot in the head at Stockwell tube station by officers who mistook him for a suicide bomber. The Met was found to have made catastrophic errors that led to De Menezes’s death, but Dick was cleared of any “personal culpability”. His family called for Dick to be barred from ever leading the Met.

Operation Midland

In 2019 Dick was referred to the police watchdog over her handling of Operation Midland - the investigation into allegations of child sexual abuse by members of the establishment. The inquiry lasted a year and a half, cost £2.5million, and ended without an arrest. The IOPC cleared Dick of allegations relating to the investigation, finding no evidence that she “deliberately misled the public”.

Bibaa Henry And Nicole Smallman

In June 2020, sisters Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman were found murdered in a north London park by members of their own family after the force had been criticised over their poor response to reports of the missing women. Two PCs were later jailed for taking photographs of their bodies and sharing them with people on WhatsApp.

Black Lives Matter

Dick faced calls to resign by Black Lives Matter activists who say she “failed to acknowledge” racism within the force. The commissioner also denied the Met was institutionally racist, claiming allegations were not “helpful” labels.

Sarah Everard Murder

The Met Police response to the murder of Sarah Everard infuriated public and politicians alike. Her killer Wayne Couzens was a firearms officer serving with the Met. After he was sentenced to a whole-life term in September 2021, the Met made attempts to restore trust with women that were widely mocked. Advice included telling women who were worried about an officer approaching them they could wave down a bus. The Met was also criticised for its heavy handling of a vigil held for Everard which resulted in arrests.

Daniel Morgan

The Met was described as “institutionally corrupt” and Dick was personally censured for obstruction by an independent inquiry set up to review the murder of the private detective Daniel Morgan in 1987. Morgan’s brother, Alastair, calls for Dick to consider her position.


Dick was criticised for the Met’s initial failure to investigate alleged parties held at Downing Street and other government offices during lockdown restrictions. Following pressure to act, they are now investigating 12 alleged Covid-rule breaking gatherings.

Charing Cross

At the start of February 2022 a damning report by the IOPC revealed vile WhatsApp messages sent by 14 officers at Charing Cross police station in central London. They included jokes about rape, domestic violence, the Holocaust and killing black children.


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