Met Police chief should go to avoid future ‘errors’, falsely accused ex-MP says

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick should be replaced to ensure any future “errors” by the force are avoided, a former Tory MP has urged.

Harvey Proctor, 74, is among the high-profile figures who have signed an open letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson accusing Dame Cressida of “presiding over a culture of incompetence and cover-up” and urging her replacement.

Speaking to the PA news agency, Mr Proctor characterised Dame Cressida’s leadership of the Met as “not good and broken, failed and discredited”, adding “but she clings to power”.

The ex-Tory MP was one of three men who had their houses raided by officers from the Met’s failed Operation Midland launched in reaction to false allegations by jailed fantasist Carl Beech about a murderous VIP paedophile ring.

Carl Beech court case
Former Conservative MP Harvey Proctor (Danny Lawson/PA)

The letter – shared with the Daily Mail and signed by seven people including Baroness Doreen Lawrence and Lady Diana Brittan – said Dame Cressida’s contract should not be extended and urged the police watchdog, the Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC), to introduce reforms.

It argued she “must be properly investigated for her conduct, along with predecessors and those in her inner circle, who she appointed and who have questions to answer.”

Baroness Lawrence, mother of teenager Stephen Lawrence, who died in a racist attack in 1993, has previously voiced her disappointment after an investigation into her son’s death was shelved last year.

Meanwhile Lady Brittan, whose home was raided when her late husband Lord Brittan was falsely accused of child abuse as part of Operation Midland, previously told the Home Affairs Select Committee that public figures caught up in the scandal had still not received justice.

Labour leadership contest
Baroness Doreen Lawrence has signed the letter (Peter Byrne/PA)

Mr Proctor said the fallout from Operation Midland, launched under Dame Cressida’s predecessor Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, had cost him his job and house.

Criticising the Met’s response to “errors” made in that operation, Mr Proctor added: “I am here really wanting to ensure that this does not happen again.

“And I believe that it will happen again, if no single police officer bears responsibility for what went wrong in Operation Midland.

“No-one, no senior police officer has been held responsible for Operation Midland personally, just the reverse.

The letter comes after reports suggested Dame Cressida, who became commissioner in April 2017, had been offered a two-year extension to her contract which is due to come to the end in April next year.

Mr Proctor told PA he would be “dumbfounded” if her contract was extended, adding it would be a “blunder”.

Broadcaster Paul Gambaccini, who was falsely accused of historical sex offences, told PA the letter he also signed was linked to a belief in the alleged “corruption at the heart of the Metropolitan Police”.

“An organisation that will not reform itself must be reformed from the outside,” he said, adding: “Londoners deserve a first class police service, they do not currently have one.”

Mr Gambaccini was arrested in October 2013 and spent a year on bail before the case was dropped.

He said has been left “completely shocked” by how “amateur” the Met is, adding: “In so many cases they make the Keystone Cops look like the SAS.”

Mr Gambaccini also claimed: ”Having made a mistake, the police will do almost anything to avoid admitting it, and will certainly avoid punishing whichever officers made the errors.”

During her tenure, Dame Cressida’s leadership and the Met’s integrity have faced criticism over a number of issues.

They include officers’ handling of a vigil held in memory of Sarah Everard, the marketing executive murdered by former Met Police Pc Wayne Couzens in March.

Cressida Dick and Priti Patel
Dame Cressida with Home Secretary Priti Patel during a visit to the new Counter-Terrorism Operations Centre (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

In June, a report on the unsolved 1987 murder of Daniel Morgan accused the force of institutional corruption and sparked denials from the Met’s leadership.

The force has also faced ongoing accusations of racial bias in its use of stop and search powers and was hit with criticism over the security of Wembley stadium during the final of the Euro 2020 championships.

Mr Proctor said when the letter’s signatories, who include Mr Morgan’s brother Alastair Morgan, met last Thursday they found there was a “commonality of sadness” and a “commitment to make sure that we get something done about all these matters”.

He said there should be “independent judicial control” of the IOPC, with that body being responsible to the Home Secretary.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “The appointment of the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service is a formal process which will be confirmed in the proper way.”

Dame Cressida previously defended the Met following the Daniel Morgan report, refusing to accept the finding of institutional corruption by an independent panel, and defended the actions of officers at the Euro 2020 final.

She has also denied the force is institutionally racist but admitted it is “not free of discrimination, racism or bias”.

Deputy Commissioner Sir Stephen House previously apologised for failings made by the Met following Operation Midland and insisted there was no cover up. The Met is defending a judicial review over the Sarah Everard case.