Page last updated at 17:02 GMT, Monday, 26 January 2009

Final interviews for Met top job

Sir Hugh Orde and Sir Paul Stephenson
The successful applicant is expected to be named before the end of the month

The two candidates for the job of Metropolitan Police commissioner have faced their final interviews with both the home secretary and mayor of London.

Acting Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson and Sir Hugh Orde, Chief Constable for Northern Ireland, are the contenders.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith makes the decision, but the Met chief needs the support of mayor Boris Johnson and jointly conducted the interviews.

Sir Ian Blair quit as Met chief saying he did not have the mayor's support.

BBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw said the two final candidates are "as evenly matched as can be".

Both men have distinguished careers spanning more than 30 years, counter-terrorism experience, and are "down-to-earth officers comfortable in the spotlight", he said.

But he added: "The main difference between them is that Sir Hugh Orde, who left the Met in 2002, isn't associated with Sir Ian Blair's troubled period as commissioner.

"Sir Paul Stephenson is, as Sir Ian's deputy he was in charge of the day-to-day running of the force."

Controversies

Sir Ian announced his resignation in October last year, blaming a lack of support from the mayor.

The officer's tenure at the head of the Met, which began in February 2005, saw a number of controversies including the fatal shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes, who was mistaken for a suicide bomber.

Two other contenders, chief constables Sir Paul Scott-Lee, of the West Midlands force, and Bernard Hogan-Howe, from Merseyside, were eliminated from the running.

Sir Hugh began his career with the Met in 1977 and was deputy assistant commissioner when he left in 2002 to take on the job as head of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).

Sir Paul started out with Lancashire Constabulary in 1975 and, after becoming a superintendent, spent time with the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

In 1994 he was appointed assistant chief constable of Merseyside before moving to Lancashire, where he became chief constable in 2002.

In 2005, he moved to the Met, succeeding Sir Ian Blair as deputy commissioner.

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