Cressida Dick is at the centre of a new ‘cover-up’ storm after it emerged she was secretly referred to the police watchdog over comments she made about the controversial stop and search of Team GB sprinter Bianca Williams.
A formal complaint was made over remarks by the Met Commissioner during a radio interview after the athlete and her partner Ricardo dos Santos, a Portuguese sprinter, were handcuffed and separated from their three-month-old son when their car was stopped.
Video of the incident last July showed a distressed Miss Williams telling officers: ‘My son is in the car.’
Weeks later, Dame Cressida jumped to the defence of her officers, telling LBC’s Nick Ferrari that ‘having seen some of the footage myself, I would say that any officer worth their salt would have stopped that car that was being driven in that manner and, secondly, my professional standards people have looked at it and they don’t see any misconduct’.
Critics accused Dame Cressida of trying to pre-empt the outcome of an ongoing independent investigation into the incident.
Controversy deepened this month after the police watchdog revealed that three Met officers were under investigation for gross misconduct over alleged racism and dishonesty.
Miss Williams and Mr dos Santos were stopped in north-west London by the Met’s Territorial Support Group.
They were searched on suspicion of having drugs and weapons, with none found, while their son was in the back seat.
Both athletes are trained by former Olympic champion Linford Christie, who accused police of institutional racism.
The Mail can reveal that a complaint was made last August about Dame Cressida’s comments on LBC, and subsequently referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), which carried out an ‘assessment’ of her remarks.
But details of the referral, which cleared her of misconduct, have been kept under wraps for nearly a year, with the Met refusing to answer key questions.
It is only because of Mail inquiries that details of the complaint and the link to the Bianca Williams case have come to light.
It is the latest row to engulf Dame Cressida’s increasingly troubled reign as head of Britain’s biggest police force.
In a bombshell interview with the Mail this year, former home secretary Leon Brittan’s widow accused Scotland Yard of a ‘culture of cover up and flick away’ under Dame Cressida.
An investigation by this newspaper revealed how senior officers launched a major operation to ensure the Met Commissioner was ‘not pulled’ into the Operation Midland VIP abuse inquiry scandal.
Last month a damning £16 million panel inquiry report into the unsolved murder of private investigator Daniel Morgan singled out Dame Cressida for criticism for putting ‘hurdles’ in the way of the search for the truth.
The panel branded her force ‘institutionally corrupt’ and found that Scotland Yard had been more interested in protecting its reputation than in cracking the ‘most investigated unsolved murder in the history of the Metropolitan Police’.
She has rejected the report’s key finding.
The latest controversy to hit Dame Cressida emerged only after a Freedom of Information request to the IOPC, which revealed that a complaint about the Commissioner’s conduct had been referred to it last year.
But for data protection reasons – to ensure the privacy of her accuser – the watchdog refused to elaborate on the allegation.
Scotland Yard declined to say why the complaint was not made public last year. Nor would it say whether the Met chief approved the decision not to publicise it.
Former Tory MP Harvey Proctor, who received £500,000 compensation from Scotland Yard over its shambolic Operation Midland inquiry, said: ‘What is alarming is that the Met, the IOPC and MOPAC (the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime) refuse to reveal the nature of the complaint other than that it refers to inappropriate comments made by the dame in the media about a case.
‘This shows the continuation of secrecy in the police complaints system in the UK, especially concerning the Met and its senior officers and a lack of transparency and public accountability when the role of the commissioner is involved.
‘Every effort is being made to conceal Dick’s failings in an orchestrated minuet of cover-up facilitated by the dark arts of back-room deals.
‘Transparency is urgently required to shine the light of truth on professional bungling by our top police officer.’