Hanging her head in shame! Cressida Dick faces new clamour for her resignation following Sarah Everard’s murder – as Met Police chief admits the killing had corroded trust in her force
In what was described as Scotland Yard’s ‘darkest day’, a string of MPs, including the chairman of the women and equalities select committee, said Dame Cressida should go.
They said it was clear she could not restore faith in Britain’s biggest police force after one of her officers, Wayne Couzens, was sentenced to a whole-life term for Miss Everard’s murder. Home Secretary Priti Patel said the force had ‘serious questions to answer’ – and refused to give the beleaguered Met Commissioner her public backing.
Met chief Cressida Dick faced a clamour to resign after she admitted Sarah Everard’s murder had corroded trust in the police and brought ‘shame’ on her force
The case has triggered immense public and political outrage after it emerged Couzens abused police powers to ‘arrest’ and abduct the 33-year-old marketing executi
As it was revealed police may have had enough information to identify Couzens as a sexual deviant before he raped and killed Miss Everard, Dame Cressida gave a humbled apology on the steps of the Old Bailey.
But as she apologised on behalf of the force, the Yard chief was heckled by protesters shouting ‘resign’. Miss Everard’s family said the world was a ‘safer place’ after 48-year-old Couzens was sentenced to die in prison, with the judge saying his ‘warped, selfish and brutal offending’ had ‘eroded’ confidence in British policing.
The case has triggered immense public and political outrage after it emerged Couzens abused police powers to ‘arrest’ and abduct the 33-year-old marketing executive.
Last night, fresh details emerged of a string of Scotland Yard blunders over his vetting and missed opportunities to catch a monster in their midst. On a damning day for the Met, it emerged that:
- Scotland Yard are investigating whether Couzens committed other crimes while in uniform – with officers fearing there could be more victims;
- The force failed to vet the firearms officer properly and didn’t check his vehicle, which would have revealed it was linked to an indecent exposure in Kent;
- Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary is now examining Met procedures;
- Just 72 hours before the murder, police received CCTV of Couzens flashing two female members of staff at a drive-through restaurant, but officers failed to link it to him;
- Met Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave fought back tears as he admitted the case had caused such ‘corrosion’ of trust in police that he would advise his own daughters to dial 999 if they didn’t trust a police officer on their own;
- Extraordinary details emerged of Couzens’ attempt to moonlight as an actor in gangster films;
- The Met pledged to deploy 650 new officers and increase patrols to do more to protect women and girls;
- Almost 800 officers and staff from Scotland Yard have faced sexual misconduct allegations since 2010, with at least 44 convicted of sexual offences;
- There are a series of police watchdog inquiries into the conduct of 15 officers and one former officer linked to the Everard case, many of whom are Met officers.
Met Police chief’s dossier of shame
- In July 2005, Dame Cressida Dick was in charge of the operation which saw innocent electrician Jean Charles de Menezes shot dead on a Tube train after he was mistaken for a terrorist who was under surveillance
- In 2014, she sanctioned the creation of Operation Midland, the disastrous investigation into spurious VIP child sex abuse allegations that saw innocent men pursued by the force
- In 2019, Dame Cressida’s force was widely criticised for its ‘light-touch’ policing of Extinction Rebellion protests, which blocked several key areas of London l
- In March this year, the Met was criticised over its ‘heavy-handed’ policing of a vigil for murdered Sarah Everard at Clapham Common. But its tactics were later cleared by a watchdog.
- In June, she was accused of ‘obfuscation’ for thwarting the Daniel Morgan inquiry team’s attempts to access sensitive documents, leading to delays that cost the taxpayer millions. The report found that her force was ‘institutionally corrupt’
- Dame Cressida also faced criticism over July’s security shambles which saw ticketless fans storm Wembley Stadium before the England-Italy Euros final
It emerged last night that Scotland Yard failed to vet Couzens properly.
Officers did not check his vehicle records, which would have revealed a link to an indecent exposure in Kent in 2015 when Couzens was reported by a male motorist for driving around naked from the waist down.
Despite this failure, Mr Ephgrave provoked astonishment when he said Couzens would still have got into the force even if vetting officers had known, because Kent Police failed to identify Couzens – then one of their own special constables – as the driver and decided it did not merit any further action.
In another missed opportunity, 72 hours before the murder, staff at a drive-through McDonald’s restaurant in Swanley told police that two female staff members had been flashed by a motorist who exposed himself on February 7 and again on February 27.
But despite being given CCTV evidence and the number plate of Couzens’ car, detectives did not link the two incidents to the killer officer.
Had he been identified as a suspected sex offender, Couzens is likely to have been suspended and had his warrant card removed.
Mr Ephgrave said he didn’t know whether Miss Everard’s murder could have been prevented if vetting checks had been carried out properly , saying: ‘If any of those things had been in a different order, would the outcome have been different? Well maybe.’
Mr Ephgrave admitted trust in the police had been seriously damaged, adding: ‘One of my daughters said to me, ‘Dad, what am I supposed to do if I get stopped (by a policeman) coming home?’ ‘ Dame Cressida faced fury from campaigners and MPs who questioned whether the sexual deviant could have been stopped years earlier. It is understood that Dame Cressida will be called in by the Home Secretary following next week’s Tory party conference to discuss the issue.
In July 2005, Dame Cressida Dick was in charge of the operation which saw innocent electrician Jean Charles de Menezes shot dead on a Tube train after he was mistaken for a terrorist who was under surveillance
In 2019, Dame Cressida’s force was widely criticised for its ‘light-touch’ policing of Extinction Rebellion protests, which blocked several key areas of London
A Whitehall source told the Mail that ‘belief’ in the Commissioner’s leadership of the Met was ‘slipping away’, ministers were frustrated with a ‘lack of accountability’ at the force and that Britain had been ‘let down’.
Miss Patel said: ‘There are questions, serious questions that need to be answered by the Metropolitan Police.’ Asked if Dame Cressida should resign, she said only: ‘I will continue to work with the Metropolitan Police and the commissioner to hold them to account as everybody would expect me to do, and I will continue to do that.’
Tory MP Caroline Nokes, the chairman of the women and qualities select committee, said Dame Cressida should go. ‘It’s going to be an enormous job to rebuild trust in the Met after what has happened and I don’t think that she is the person to do this,’ she added.
In 2014, she sanctioned the creation of Operation Midland, the disastrous investigation into spurious VIP child sex abuse allegations that saw innocent men including Harvey Proctor (pictured) pursued by the force
Dame Cressida also faced criticism over July’s security shambles which saw ticketless fans storm Wembley Stadium before the England-Italy Euros final
‘I don’t think anyone can underestimate the damage done to the trust and confidence of women as a result of this horrifying case.
‘The Met needs to have change at the top and Dame Cressida must go.’
Lib Dem MP Wera Hobhouse tweeted: ‘I can’t see how else trust in the police can be restored unless Cressida Dick resigns for failing to spot a dangerous criminal in her force.’
Former Labour minister Harriet Harman also demanded her resignation.