Page last updated at 16:19 GMT, Saturday, 4 October 2008 17:19 UK

'No rush' urge for new Met chief

Boris Johnson
Mr Johnson said the force needs a period of consolidation after disruption

London Mayor Boris Johnson has urged Home Secretary Jacqui Smith not to rush into appointing a new Metropolitan police commissioner.

The mayor also said that he wanted to be involved in the shortlisting and final interviewing of candidates.

Ms Smith alone would usually make the appointment after recommendations from the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA), which Mr Johnson chairs.

Sir Ian Blair resigned on Thursday, blaming the mayor's lack of support.

Met Deputy commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson will take over as acting head should no candidate be appointed by the time he steps down on 1 December.

In a letter sent to Ms Smith on Friday, the mayor noted the home secretary had informed him she was planning to stick to existing procedures in appointing a successor.

HOME SECRETARY'S LETTERS

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But he urged caution before making a new appointment and advised instead "a pause to take stock" for the good of the organisation.

Mr Johnson called for a "fairly lengthy consolidation period" for the Met to re-stabilise under the interim leadership of Deputy Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson after a period of "serious disruption".

He also dismissed suggestions of a Tory plot to oust Britain's most senior police officer as "absolutely outlandish".

There was no party political element, he insisted, but a chance to "increase operational effectiveness."

Ms Smith has accused the Mayor of acting without authority or respect by pushing Sir Ian out for political reasons.

The normal procedure for removing the Met commissioner is that the MPA, its board of governors, must seek the Home Secretary's approval.

Former Home Secretary David Blunkett said he feared that this set a precedent that every new London administration would mean a new police chief.




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