Sophie Linden

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Born27 February 1970

Sophie Linden is a former Special Adviser (SPAD) to the Labour Party from 1997 to 2005, and lobbyist for the public relations firm Bell Pottinger from January 2006 to 2010.

On 24 May 2016, Labour's Deputy Leader of Hackney Council, Sophie Linden, was appointed by newly-elected Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to be the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime (DMPC) to lead the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC).[1]

Background

1997, SPAD

Prior to the 2001 General Election, Sophie Linden was a part-time SPAD to Labour's Secretary of State for Education and Employment David Blunkett, later moving to the Home Office, when Blunkett was Home Secretary.

2006, Lobbying

In January 2006, Linden joined the lobbying firm Bell Pottinger Public Affairs (BPPA) as a Director, where her biography apparently "highlights her SPAD role".[2] Former BPPA Managing Director Peter Bingle described Linden as "one of the best ministerial advisers of this generation".[3]

2010, Parliamentary candidate

In 2006, Linden became Labour Councillor for the Dalston Ward in Hackney.[4] In 2010, she was shortlisted for consideration as the Labour parliamentary candidate for Leyton and Wanstead, angering local Labour activists who felt that local members were "sidelined" by regional bosses.[5] Linden lost out to John Cryer, now MP for Leyton and Wanstead, who held the seat for Labour.[6]

Linden's biography on her candidacy bid website - which omits to mention her role at BPPA - reads as follows:[7]

I am a committed, hard working campaigner with strong local and national experience. I have been a member of the party for over 20 years. I have spent my adult life standing up for Labour values and for those who most depend on us.
My earliest experience of elections was taking numbers at polling stations for my mother who won a council seat off the Tories in the early 1980s.
From 1992-1997 I worked as a researcher to David Blunkett MP. I have experience of developing Labour policy in opposition and Labour’s attacks on the Tories and Liberal Democrats.
From 1997-2005 I was privileged to serve the Labour government in the Department for Education and the Home Office as a special adviser. I personally worked with Labour MPs and the party to deliver historic Labour goals of lowering class sizes, providing free nursery education and Sure Start; reducing crime and anti-social behaviour; delivering neighbourhood policing and reducing the harm that drugs cause.
Since 2006 I have served as a Hackney Councillor and a cabinet member for customer services and sustainability. I work tirelessly as a Ward Councillor. I am passionate about building safer communities and tackling inequality.
I work with the Labour group to implement and develop our manifesto commitments. I have developed our environmental policies to ensure that our work to reduce carbon emissions is focused on tackling fuel poverty.
Other life experience:
I am rooted in East London. I have lived in Hackney for 20 years, I moved here when I was 16, and chose to come back and live in East London after University. I would love the opportunity to use my experience to serve the people of Leyton and Wanstead. I have also worked for the End Child Poverty campaign – building up its membership and campaigning to raise the profile of the injustice of child poverty in Britain.
I have taken an active role in improving the life chances and opportunities of those who live in East London. I am on the board of Groundwork East London whose objective is to improve the lives and environment of residents – including Waltham Forest and Redbridge.
I am a member of Unite. I am married to a Headteacher and we have four lovely children.

2015, Another try

In May 2013, Sophie Linden was reported to be leafleting Labour members ahead of a decision, due in June, over who would take over from Glenda Jackson as the party’s candidate in Hampstead and Kilburn at the 2015 General Election, only two other candidates having declared an interest – local councillors Sally Gimson and Tulip Siddiq.

Widespread suggestions that education journalist Fiona Millar, partner of Alastair Campbell, was in the best position to take the candidacy ended when she withdrew from the race in April. Millar’s brother, QC Gavin Millar, was among Sophie Linden’s official endorsers. She was also backed by David Blunkett, former Home Secretary and Education Secretary, and Margaret Hodge, another former minister.

Linden defended her connections with the Blair government:

“This process is about finding the right candidate with a serious track record who can win the seat and then be an effective representative. I’m a real Londoner, I’ve lived in north London since I was 16 and it isn’t about which side of the borough boundary you are on. I’ve shown I can deal with issues nationally and locally, and am proud of the Labour government’s track record. I will be an MP who is dedicated and involved."

She said that this was not a slight on Glenda Jackson’s time as MP in Hampstead, which some critics claim had been undermined by her not being seen in the area enough:

“I’m not running against Glenda's record. It is up to Labour Party members to decide about that. I’m running on the positive attributes I can bring. I know the issues that face this area.”[8]

In the event, Tulip Siddiq was selected as Labour's PPC and was elected MP for Hampstead and Kilburn in May 2015.[9]

DMPC role

Outside of powers to issue a Police and Crime Plan, and to appoint and remove senior Met officers, the role of the DMPC in London is similar to that of an elected Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) elsewhere. Although not directly elected, once the Mayor as occupant of MOPAC delegates his authority, the DMPC has all other powers and duties of a PCC.

The DMPC heads up MOPAC and is accountable to the Mayor for: the delivery of his Police and Crime Plan; for ensuring robust oversight of the police; and driving effective criminal justice and crime reduction services across London.

The DMPC works with a range of agencies and service providers to improve services in the city, and with one important exception – the national Strategic Policing Requirement – the DMPC does not answer to Whitehall, but to Londoners. She has a duty to consult with local people in setting her objectives.

Metropolitan Police

In London, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, answers to the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, with a separate reporting line to Home Secretary Theresa May on national matters. Sir Bernard must at all times retain the confidence of both the Mayor (and DMPC) and the Home Secretary.[10]

Investigating Lockerbie

Passing the buck to Police Scotland

On 28 May 2016, Patrick Haseldine emailed Sophie Linden, Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime in London:

Dear Sophie,

The Metropolitan Police were prevented by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher from investigating the December 1988 Lockerbie bombing, the biggest terrorist attack on British soil when 270 people were murdered.

Despite the fact that the bomb was loaded onto Pan Am Flight 103 at Heathrow airport, and a break-in to the airside baggage handling area had been reported by airport security in the early hours of 21 December 1988, investigation of the crime of Lockerbie was entrusted solely to Dumfries and Galloway Police, the smallest force in Britain.

Exactly one year ago, I wrote to Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, asking for Scotland Yard to launch a murder inquiry into Lockerbie’s highest-profile victim: United Nations Assistant Secretary-General and UN Commissioner for Namibia, Bernt Carlsson.

I should be grateful if you would exercise your powers as DMPC and give political clearance for Sir Bernard to investigate the bombing of Pan Am 103.

Yours sincerely,

Patrick Haseldine[11]

On 8 June 2016, Sophie Linden's "Strategic Advisor" replied suggesting that it is for Police Scotland rather than the Metropolitan Police to investigate both the loading of the Lockerbie bomb at Heathrow airport and the break-in to the airside baggage handling area in the early hours of 21 December 1988.

Whether this means that the Met's Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe or Scotland's Chief Constable Phil Gormley has responsibility for launching the Bernt Carlsson murder inquiry is unclear.[12]

MOPAC

Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime
2nd Floor, City Hall
The Queen’s Walk
London SE1 2AA
Tel: (020) 7983 6532 (available 9am-5pm Mon-Fri)
Fax: (020) 7983 5999
Twitter: @MOPACLdn

27 February 1970|


References

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