Pressure on Priti Patel over inquiry into resignation of London police chief

A Labour MP has written to Priti Patel to demand the removal of the person she selected to lead an inquiry set up to investigate London mayor Sadiq Khan’s handling of the resignation of Metropolitan Police commissioner Cressida Dick.

Streatham MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy claimed that Sir Thomas Winsor was not a fit person to run the inquiry because he had “a history of taking positions which are politically in favour of the government”.

She pointed to Sir Thomas’ 2012 review of police officer and staff pay as chief inspector of constabulary, which she said was “widely criticised as a vehicle to pursue the then home secretary’s controversial policing agenda rather than a genuinely independent review”.

And she said that his report into the Met’s policing of a vigil for murdered Sarah Everard “went above and beyond” in defending heavy-handed actions of officers and in criticising Mr Khan’s response.

Dame Cressida was forced out as head of London’s police service in February after Mr Khan made clear she no longer enjoyed his confidence, in the wake of a number of scandals including the botched investigation of serial killer Stephen Pond, the murder of Ms Everard by a serving officer and evidence of a culture of misogyny at Charing Cross police station.

Ms Patel was said to have been blindsided by the mayor’s action, and she announced a review of the affair after Dick’s deputy Sir Stephen House suggested that City Hall did not follow due process.

The home secretary will choose Dame Cressida’s successor and is legally required to take Khan’s opinion into account, but reports suggest she has asked Winsor to consider whether the mayor’s role should be scaled back to reduce political political influence on England’s top policing role.

In her letter, seen by The Independent, Ms Ribeiro-Addy demanded confirmation of whether these claims were correct.

And she said that if the inquiry could not be called off altogether, Sir Thomas should be replaced as its head.

“To attempt to influence the outcome of the review before it is complete would be an abuse of power and further calls into question the independence of the review and its subsequent findings,” she said.

“The focus now should not be on a politicised review of the past, but on working with the mayor of London to appoint a new commissioner capable of delivering the widescale reforms urgently required to rebuild trust in London’s police going forward, while continuing to reduce serious violence in our capital.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Sir Thomas Winsor has a well-established reputation for providing robust, well evidenced and independent reports to government, so to suggest otherwise is offensive and wrong.

“In the interests of transparency, the terms of reference for the review have been published online, and the home secretary has committed to report back to parliament on the review’s outcomes.”

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