Watchdogs consider investigation of Cressida Dick over Daniel Morgan case

Met commissioner’s conduct was criticised in report into police corruption after 1987 unsolved murder

Two police watchdogs are considering the launching of a formal investigation into Dame Cressida Dick, the commissioner of the Metropolitan police, following the report on police corruption that shielded the killers of Daniel Morgan.

Since the publication of the Morgan report, which directly criticised Dick for hampering the government-sponsored inquiry, the Independent Office for Police Conduct has been considering whether she, and other past and present officers that were criticised, should face action.

Because of Dick’s seniority, in the first instance any decision to refer Dick for investigation would be made by the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (Mopac). It oversees the Met and is part of London mayor Sadiq Khan’s administration.

Mopac believes it has a responsibility laid out in law to consider if Dick should face an investigation following her censure by the Morgan inquiry panel. It has now confirmed it is doing so.

Furthermore, the IOPC is considering using its special powers to launch an investigation, even if the Met police watchdog declines to do so.

Mopac said: “In line with its statutory responsibility, the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime is considering any possible issues of conduct in relation to the commissioner of the Metropolitan police arising from the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel report.”

Officials from both the IOPC and Mopac have discussed the potential need for any investigation into the commissioner following the Morgan report, sources said.

The IOPC said: “If allegations are not referred to us, the impact on public confidence may warrant us considering whether to use our call in powers.

“We also have a dedicated team actively reviewing the panel’s report and comments to assess our next steps.”

The report into the 1987 murder of Morgan, the private detective who was found dead in a south London pub car park, accused the Met of placing the protection of its reputation above finding the truth. It was withering about the actions of Dick, who was an assistant commissioner in 2013 when then home secretary Theresa May ordered the inquiry into Morgan’s death and claims of police corruption.

The report blamed Dick personally for obstructing access to documents the panel thought vital and blamed the force for causing delays that meant the panel took eight years to reach its bombshell conclusion that the Met was institutionally corrupt. Dick and the Met have denied both damaging claims.

In police discipline inquiries, a notice is issued to the officer concerned setting out the potential scope of the allegations. Because of the seriousness of the finding of the Morgan report, that could mean gross misconduct, the most serious charge in the police discipline code and carrying with it a maximum penalty of dismissal.

The standard for starting an investigation is an indication that an officer has breached professional standards. Once a disciplinary investigation has started, it can continue even after an officer retires.

Speculation has been mounting about the future of Dick who attended a ceremony on Wednesday at St James’s Palace to make her a dame commander for public service.

Khan said the commissioner had not told him or indicated to him whether she wanted to stay on when her five-year term ends next April.

A government source said there may be informal discussions next month about whether the commissioner wants to stay on. Those in government believe it would be for Dick to indicate she would like an extension, while those close to Dick believe it is for “the politicians” to indicate if they want her to stay on.

In the last seven days Dick has been criticised for alleged police failures that allowed people to storm Wembley stadium before the Euro 2020 final between England and Italy on Sunday. The Met believes the security of the stadium was primarily a matter for Wembley and not them.

The Met was also under pressure on Friday after Wayne Couzens, a serving Met officer, admitted the murder of Sarah Everard. The Met is under investigation by the police watchdog for whether it properly investigated two claims of indecent exposure allegedly committed by Couzens at a McDonald’s, just three days before he kidnapped Everard from a south London street.

Dick on Wednesday defended her officers after the breach at Wembley stadium: “There’s an awful lot of inaccurate speculation about what happened at the moment. I’m very proud of my officers and the command team,” she said.


Vikram Dodd Police and crime correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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