Sadiq Khan today insisted that the Metropolitan Police have learnt “significant lessons” from the 2005 shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes and reiterated his belief that Cressida Dick, named this week as the force’s new Commissioner, was “the best candidate” for the job.
The Mayor’s comments came after two prominent Green Party politicians questioned Ms Dick’s appointment by Home Secretary Amber Rudd.
Mr de Menezes was shot by two CO19 officers who mistakenly believed he was a suicide bomber. The incident was investigated by the IPCC and also led to the Met being successfully prosecuted for breaches of Health & Safety law.
The jury which heard that case took the rare decision to attach a rider to their verdict clearing Ms Dick, who was in charge of the day’s operation, of any personal culpability.
Dick was later promoted to Deputy Assistant Commissioner for Security and Protection, before becoming the Assistant Commissioner for Specialist Crime in 2009.
In 2011 she became Assistant Commissioner for Specialist Operations, a role in which she was responsible for leading the fight against terrorism and extremism and for ensuring the security of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the 2012 Olympic Games.
She also led the reinvestigation into the murder of Stephen Lawrence and the police response to Lee Rigby’s murder, and briefly served as the force’s acting Deputy Commissioner before leaving policing in 2015 to become a Director General at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Despite Dick’s distinguished service in the decade which followed the Stockwell tragedy, Green Party politicians have questioned her suitability for the Met’s top job.
Speaking ahead of her appointment, the party’s Home Affairs spokesman, Dr Shahrar Ali, told the Evening Standard “It beggars belief that Cressida Dick could even be in the frame for such a critical policing post.”
Following the appointment’s confirmation on Wednesday, one of the party’s London Assembly members, Sian Berry, branded it “a very controversial choice.”
Berry is a member of the Assembly’s Police and Crime committee which scrutinises the force and suggested that “Assembly members will want questions answered about the lessons the new Commissioner learned after the Jean Charles De Menezes shooting.”
In a statement she added: “This was the most serious and shocking single mistake the Met has made in the last 20 years. For the Mayor to appoint the officer in charge on that day to run the whole of the Met when community cohesion is his priority for London does potentially put this at risk.
“Londoners must have complete confidence in their police force and its leaders – I will be questioning the Mayor about this appointment.”
However colleagues on the committee have distanced themselves from Berry’s suggestion that questions remain to be answered, with several saying they would block any attempt by her to revisit the issue at their upcoming meetings.
One Assembly insider said: “It’s time the Greens left the student politics outside the building.”
Sadiq Khan’s office has also dismissed suggestions that there’s any outstanding business associated with the Stockwell shooting, saying the Mayor “is confident that significant lessons have been learned by the police.”
A spokesperson told MayorWatch: “The Mayor’s heart goes out to the family of Jean Charles de Menezes. This was a tragic event in London’s history and no family should have to face a tragedy like this.”
However they insisted that Dick is “the best candidate to lead the Metropolitan police service and keep Londoners safe,” and said Khan, who was involved in selecting the new Commissioner, was “proud” of the choice he and the Home Secretary had made.