Page last updated at 18:31 GMT, Friday, 3 October 2008 19:31 UK

Police chief rules out Met role

Sir Norman Bettison
Sir Norman Bettison said he was "staying put" in his current job

The chief constable of West Yorkshire has said he will not consider becoming the next Met commissioner because of the threat of "political interference".

Sir Norman Bettison said the "dislodging" of Sir Ian Blair was "a demonstration of political will", adding: "Along this road lies danger."

Sir Ian announced his resignation on Thursday, citing a lack of support from London Mayor Boris Johnson.

The home secretary has accused the mayor of acting without authority.

Mr Johnson, who has taken over as chairman of the Metropolitan Police Authority, said the force needed "new leadership and a new clarity of purpose".

'Lame duck'

Mr Bettison, who joined the police in 1972, had been viewed as a possible candidate for the role of Met commissioner.

But on Friday he released a statement saying he was "staying put" and warning there could be "dangerous consequences" if chief constables were increasingly unable to act independently.

"I am not prepared to set aside my professional judgement and integrity, forged over 36 years, in order to meet short-term political expediency," he said.

I came to this conclusion after a great deal of thought and after consulting many, many people
London Mayor Boris Johnson

"The dislodging of Ian Blair is a demonstration of political will. Along this road lies danger. I am therefore staying put."

Mr Bettison said any chief constable who, like Sir Ian, lost the confidence of his Police Authority was inevitably "a lame duck".

"The real threat lies in the ambition which seems to be shared by all three major political parties at the moment," he said.

"The determination to make the police service more accountable to elected representatives. What that means is bringing the police service under greater political control."

Formal procedure

Earlier, Mr Johnson defended his role in Sir Ian's departure, describing suggestions by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith that he had acted without authority as "barking".

Mr Johnson said: "I came to this conclusion after a great deal of thought and after consulting many, many people."

APPOINTING A COMMISSIONER
Shortlisting by Home Office officials and MPA chair
Candidates interviewed by MPA panel, who give the home secretary their recommendations
Home secretary interviews candidates and asks mayor's views
Home secretary must 'have regard' to mayor and MPA's views before making recommendation to the Queen
Joint announcement by Home Office and MPA

Source: Metropolitan Police Authority
(based on the previous appointment)

Shadow home secretary Dominic Grieve said the mayor had not forced Sir Ian to resign - nor had he the power to do so - but he had indicated his lack of confidence in the commissioner.

The formal procedure for removing the commissioner of Britain's biggest police force is that the authority must seek the home secretary's approval.

Ex-home secretary David Blunkett told BBC Radio 4's Today Programme that the Conservatives had long wanted to "get rid" of Sir Ian.

Racism row

Sir Ian has faced controversies in his high-profile role, but said he was not going because of any failures.

His tenure started confidently with reforms including neighbourhood policing and a more diverse workforce, and he has presided over falling crime in the capital.

But he has been dogged by a string of controversies, including the shooting dead by police of Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes, who was mistaken for a suicide bomber.

Recently, Sir Ian has faced criticism over the racism row involving the Met's most senior Asian officer Tarique Ghaffur.

HAVE YOUR SAY
It's a very difficult job, and I don't believe that he did badly, but he needs to go
Nic Brough, London

And Metropolitan Police Authority auditors are in the process of examining Scotland Yard contracts given to consultancy firm Impact Plus, run by a friend.

Sir Ian will step down on 1 December.

His deputy, Sir Paul Stephenson, is understood to be the mayor's favoured candidate to take over the job, but Ken Jones, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, has refused to rule himself out of the running.



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