Page last updated at 12:33 GMT, Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Boris Johnson steps down from police authority

Boris Johnson announces his resignation at City Hall

London Mayor Boris Johnson has said he is stepping down as the chairman of the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA).

His office said he decided to quit the post in order to "reorganise and refocus his team" on other projects.

The law was changed in 2008 to allow the mayor to head the MPA. The current MPA vice chairman Kit Malthouse will replace him.

Announcing his resignation at City Hall, Mr Johnson said: "I am very content that crime is coming down."

He added: "In view of the reforms that are under way it would be a good thing if we change the chair of the MPA.

"I am proposing to stand down and promote Kit Malthouse.

"I can reassure you and reassure members of the MPA that my links with the Commissioner [Sir Paul Stephenson] are as strong and as robust as ever."

'Put politics aside'

The mayor's office said that crime remains a "top priority" for Mr Johnson who will hold fortnightly meetings with Sir Paul and senior officers.

"The mayor also believes that, as an independent body of experts working to improve policing in London, the MPA should put party politics aside," it added.

The mayor's office added that Mr Malthouse is committed to delivering the "best police force" for the capital.

When he was elected, Mr Johnson said he would personally take charge of the police to tackle crime in the capital but his time has been marked by a series of controversies.

In October 2008, the previous Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair announced he was stepping down from his post because of a lack of support from the mayor.

His announcement came soon after Mr Johnson took his post as the head of the MPA.

At an MPA meeting the mayor said the force needed "new leadership".

Sir Ian's resignation led to an outcry among senior police officers and the mayor was accused of "crossing the line" in political interference.

Mr Johnson was also accused of abusing his position after admitting he contacted Tory shadow immigration minister Damian Green after his arrest on suspicion of leaking sensitive Home Office documents.

'Cuts and runs'

Mr Johnson was briefed on the arrest by the Met in his capacity as chairman of the MPA.

An independent report into the arrest also criticised the mayor's actions and the chairman of the Home Affairs Select committee Keith Vaz criticised him for being unhelpful to their inquiry into the circumstances of the arrest.

Joanne McCartney, Labour's policing spokeswoman, said: "Boris said the mayor should be directly accountable for crime but just as he plans to slash police numbers and funding, he cuts and runs."

Dee Doocey, the Liberal Democrat policing spokeswoman, said: "I just hope that, unlike Boris Johnson, Kit Malthouse actually reads and understands the Met's budget and then sets out to immediately reverse the damaging cuts in police numbers which the mayor has for so long denied."

Mr Malthouse has made tackling the issue of dangerous dogs one of his priorities and is expected to lead the mayor's bid to find savings in the Met.

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