So, London’s mayor, Boris Johnson, has achieved what others failed to – the removal of Sir Ian Blair.
Earlier this afternoon, the UK’s most senior police officer – who has been the Metropolitan Police commissioner since 2005 – announced his resignation, despite making it known that he would have liked to continue in the post until his contract expired in 2010.
Blair claimed that his decision had been forced upon him in a “pleasant but determined” way by the mayor. Johnson wished to see a “change of leadership. Without the mayor's backing I do not think I can continue in the job.”
Since becoming commissioner, Blair has been enmired in one controversy after another, and became known as the “PC PC” among his critics – in 2002, as deputy commissioner of the Met, he had called for more female, ethnic-minority and gay recruits. In 2005, the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes (pictured), the Brazilian man shot by police at Stockwell Tube station, caused much public outrage and heated calls for his resignation.
Today, Brian Paddick, the former Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner (and at one time Britain’s most high-ranking out gay police officer), said it was a sad day for policing. A little odd, perhaps, given that, in 2006, he threatened to sue the Met after they denied his claims that Blair’s office knew that de Menezes was the wrong man just six hours after the shooting.
At the time, Paddick was reported to be furious at being made the fall guy and hung out to dry by the Met following the testimony he gave on Blair to the IPCC (Independent Police Complaints Commission). Paddick said then that it sounded as if his colleagues were accusing him of lying.