Until the Deputy Commissioner left to deal with an incident, the most exciting thing about last week’s London Assembly’s Police and Crime Committee meeting was the questions surrounding allegations made against Kit Malthouse at the Leveson inquiry.
If you’re new to the row, Malthouse is accused of interfering with the Met’s resourcing of phone hacking investigation while he was Chair of the Metropolitan Police Authority.
Today’s Evening Standard repeats the charge.
In his appearance before AMs, Malthouse said it was hard to answer in detail because he’s due to appear before Leveson later this month and felt it improper to pre-empt his evidence.
Assembly Members were far from impressed, Jenny Jones later claimed Malthouse’s position “showed the flaws in the new MOPC system”
But from the answers he did give, Malthouse is very clear that he did challenge the Met about its resourcing of the inquiry because, as he put it, that’s the job he’s paid to do.
Malthouse says his motive was purely to ensure resourcing was appropriate and proportionate and would not prevent Londoners receiving the policing they expect or deserve.
And, he says, other MPA and Assembly Members have “rightly” done the same in relation to other areas of police work.
In the absence of anything other than disputed understandings, opponents are going to have a hard time disproving the innocent slant Malthouse puts on his interventions.
But the rumbling does raise a couple of points worth voicing.
If the Met thought they were being subjected to political pressure did they raise the issue with the Home Office, MPA or Mayor? The MPA often had closed sessions where officers could have raised concerns.
Will the Police and Crime Committee invite serving and former officers to expand on any discussions they think amounted to an attempt to influence their work?
The PCC should also work with the Met and MOPC to ensure there’s a proper mechanism by which officers of any rank can raise such concerns in future.
Finally, although the MOPC is the Met’s regulator, there are no public scrutiny meetings between the Commissioner and the Deputy Mayor for Policing.
Asked about this on Thursday, Malthouse seemed to suggest it was difficult for just two men could hold a public meeting – should it be the pair of them in armchairs by the fireside?
But the current row, and the headlines Malthouse is enduring, would be less likely had he raised any concerns about resourcing in a public meeting where nuance and intent are more obvious than repetition and reporting often allow.
Failing that, MOPC may need to consider implementing a formal, written mechanism for raising such concerns.