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Last Updated: Friday, 31 December, 2004, 00:21 GMT
Sir David Veness: Mr Security
Sir David Veness
Knighted: Met Assistant Commissioner, David Veness
Scotland Yard's anti-terrorist chief, Assistant Commissioner David Veness, who receives a knighthood in the New Years' Honours list, is one of the UK's most high-profile police officers.

In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, David Veness became a centrally important figure in the so-called "war against terror". So far he has proved to be a safe pair of hands, a fact recognised by today's knighthood.

Following the attacks on the United States, Sir David wasted little time in formulating the UK's response. Officers were dispatched to Israel, where they learned about the threat posed by, and tactics to counter, suicide bombers.

Joined as cadet

Beyond this, he realised this new campaign would be radically different from those of groups like the IRA.

More officers were posted at high-profile targets like Buckingham Palace and he warned the public that al-Qaeda, and its fellow travellers, were "plotting murder on a mass scale" and would certainly attempt to hit the capital with a large-scale attack.

When tanks were sent to Heathrow Airport in February 2003, he co-ordinated operations from Scotland Yard's control centre.

An armed police officer at London's Heathrow Airport
Sir David beefed-up security at London's Heathrow Airport
Sir David, who was educated at Trinity College Cambridge, joined the Metropolitan Police as a cadet in 1964. He became a CID officer in 1969 and worked in a number of areas, including the fraud squad.

He was appointed a commander in 1987 and served in Royal and Diplomatic Protection until 1990.

In 1991 he became head of the specialist crime squads at Scotland Yard, which included serious, organised and international crime, the fraud squad, the Flying Squad, criminal intelligence and force firearms.

Appointed Assistant Commissioner in April 1994 he assumed charge of all "specialist operations" including protection, terrorism, security and organised crime.

Controversy

Last year, he commissioned the Unicorn Project, a confidential report which called the government's anti-terrorism policy "uncoordinated, condescending, outdated and incoherent".

But he is no stranger to criticism himself.

As the man in overall charge of royal security, Sir David has had to contend with a number of security breaches in recent years.

He was forced to apologise to the Royals after a self-styled "comedy terrorist", Aaron Barschak, walked into Prince William's 21st birthday party at Windsor Castle dressed as Osama bin Laden.

A man dressed as Batman stands on a balcony at Buckingham Palace
"Batman" at the Palace embarrassed the Met
The ensuing inquiry talked of a "culture of complacency" within the police and Sir David said the security lapse was "a matter of great regret".

There was further embarrassment when an undercover reporter got a job at Buckingham Palace on the eve of a visit by President George W Bush, an incident which did not impress the US Secret Service.

Then, three months ago, Fathers 4 Justice campaigner Jason Hatch, dressed as Batman, climbed up Buckingham Palace and protested on a ledge for six hours.

As the television pictures were beamed across the world, senior Royal protection officers were embarrassed once more.

A father of three, Sir David - who is also the holder of the Queen's Police Medal - enjoys rugby union and reading. He is due to retire in the spring.




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