Page last updated at 17:10 GMT, Thursday, 27 November 2008

Met chief was 'never distracted'

Sir Ian Blair speaks out

The Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair has told London Mayor Boris Johnson that he was never distracted by controversies around him.

Sir Ian was speaking at his last meeting with the Metropolitan Police Authority, chaired by the mayor, before he steps down on 1 December.

He said he hoped his successor would get the mayor's "unequivocal" support as "it is a very difficult job".

Sir Ian resigned last month citing lack of support from Mayor Boris Johnson.

'Boring' commissioner

As Mr Johnson took over as the chair of the force's governing body he said the force needed a change of leadership, prompting the top officer to quit within 24 hours.

Speaking at City Hall on Thursday, Mr Johnson described Sir Ian as "a very distinguished public servant" and "one of the most thoughtful minds in modern policing".

The mayor said Sir Ian's "enormous contribution" to policing and public safety included the "magnificent" way the Met responded to the 7 July bombings.

Sir Ian responded: "You (the mayor) will remember when we met in this building on 1 October you said to me, 'you must be distracted by the controversies around you'.

"I was not and I am not."

I talked about copper-bottomed trousers but they (his successor) will probably need a copper-bottomed suit altogether
Sir Ian Blair

The commissioner also said that he was confident of being "fully exonerated" by an inquiry over contracts allegedly issued to a close friend.

Sir Ian also spoke about the claims of racial discrimination against him and the force by Britain's most senior Asian officer Tarique Ghaffur.

Mr Ghaffur settled the planned legal action and withdrew allegations that Sir Ian acted in a racist or other discriminatory way towards him.

He has signed a gagging clause with the Met and is stepping down on Thursday.

Sir Ian said he knew that Mr Ghaffur "would eventually withdraw his allegation".

Referring to a comment by the deputy mayor of policing Kit Malthouse, who said the next commissioner should be "boring", Sir Ian said it was unlikely to happen.

"I'm going to tell you, were that to be the case, you will be disappointed because no-one can reach this position by being boring and no-one can occupy it without attracting controversy.

"Whoever comes next will need you to understand that they need your support, not uncritical but unequivocal, as is the case at every other police authority between the chief and the chair."

After the meeting the outgoing officer said: "I talked about copper-bottomed trousers but they (his successor) will probably need a copper-bottomed suit altogether.

"I think the position that has been reached where the Home Secretary and mayor are from different parties adds a new dimension to it."

He added: "It is a politically weighty job but still a do-able job and it has to be a do-able job on behalf of Londoners."

Following Sir Ian's resignation the mayor was accused of political interference but he dismissed these claims as "balderdash, piffle and tripe".

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