Page last updated at 17:17 GMT, Thursday, 31 January 2008

Profile: Brian Paddick

Brian Paddick
Mr Paddick came third in the London Mayoral race
Brian Paddick, the maverick police commander turned strait-laced politician, is no stranger to being in the public eye.

The 50 year old became the highest-ranking openly gay police officer in the UK and pioneered a controversial "softly-softly" approach to drug enforcement.

He won the support of the locals he served, but after online chatroom musings on anarchism, the tabloids nicknamed him "crackpot commander".

He went on to survive allegations by his former partner that he smoked cannabis, being cleared of the most serious of these.

Three years later, his career prospects took a blow after he publicly clashed with his boss, Met Commissioner Sir Ian Blair, over the handling of the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes at Stockwell tube station.

He claimed police knew they had killed an innocent man hours after the shooting. The Met's denial led to a legal dispute, eventually settled out of court.

Elton John's support

His retirement from the force came in May 2007 and soon after he became the Liberal Democrat candidate in the race to become Mayor of London, promising a trustworthy, honest and direct approach.

His manifesto included pledges for a new tram network, a 5 per cent year-on-year crime reduction and the abolition of a congestion charge zone extension.

Brian Paddick in 2005
Mr Paddick was one of the Met's spokesmen after the 7 July attacks

While it won the support of singer Elton John, his lack of political experience and low profile put off voters.

The race outsider came third with 870,000 votes, some 300,000 fewer than Boris Johnson, the eventual winner.

Since his defeat, Mr Paddick has been lecturing, writing and broadcasting on leadership and policing issues.

His grounding for this comes from a 31-year police career, which began as a bobby on the beat.

After joining the Metropolitan Police in 1976, Mr Paddick rose steadily through the ranks from constable to Deputy Assistant Commissioner.

Inner-city relations

The Met, as the force is dubbed, recognised his talents early on.

He was given a police scholarship to study politics, philosophy and economics at Queen's College, Oxford, and an MBA from the University of Warwick.

He also has a diploma in policing and applied criminology from Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge.

Mr Paddick - born in Balham in south London - was a "frontline" community officer during the Brixton riots in 1981.

Relations between the residents and the police in the inner-city borough would remain strained for much of the next 20 years.

After a stint as the borough commander in Merton, he switched in December 2000 to Lambeth, which includes Brixton as well as areas such as Streatham and Clapham.

In Lambeth, he was directly responsible for 940 police officers, 230 support staff and an annual budget of 37 million.

Drugs policy

Lambeth was a poor borough which was ethnically diverse and deeply distrustful of the police.

Mr Paddick said he was fulfilling a career ambition, adding his position was "not just a job - it was a personal commitment".

Brian Paddick in 2003
Mr Paddick became the UK's highest-profile gay police officer
His openness and informal style were welcomed by the local community and he became a popular local figure.

When he spoke at meetings in Brixton's town hall, he would often be given standing ovations.

It was to be Mr Paddick's cannabis initiative in the borough which really brought him to national prominence.

People caught with the drug were dealt with informally rather than arrested. The cannabis was confiscated and the individual was warned, with no further action taken.

Police could save time on paperwork and concentrate on other crimes. A Scotland Yard review would show that offences in the borough had fallen while arrests for more serious crime offences had risen.

Promotion

When the cannabis-smoking allegations first surfaced in March 2002, Paddick was suspended from his post while an inquiry was conducted.

During this time, his popularity with local people was evident as hundreds attended rallies demanding his reinstatement.

Despite strong local support and despite being cleared of the allegations, Paddick was moved to a "desk job" in the Specialist Crime Directorate, which deals with serious cases such as murder, kidnap and fraud.

In November 2003, following a brief period back in borough-based policing in north west London, Brian Paddick was promoted to deputy assistant commissioner.

His other high-profile roles within the Met included acting as the police spokesperson during the London bombings in July 2005.

But he clashed with Met Commissioner Sir Ian Blair over the handling of the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes.

Mr Paddick claimed the force had known within hours that an innocent man had died.

He consulted libel lawyers after the police said his claim was "simply not true", insisting that this statement was tantamount to accusing him of lying.

The two sides eventually settled their dispute, but his switch from deputy command of territorial policing to an information management role was seen by some as a sideways move.

Mr Paddick finally retired from the force on 31 May 2007.

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