Mayor of London Ken Livingstone has accused politicians calling for the resignation of Sir Ian Blair of “playing political games regardless of the impact on the Metropolitan Police Service’s ability to deal with terrorism.”
Yesterday an Old Bailey jury found the Metropolitan Police guilty of health and safety failures in the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes at Stockwell Tube station on 22 July 2005.
Since then Sir Ian has faced a number of calls to resign including from Shadow Home Secretary David Davies who said his position was now “untenable” and LibDem Home Affairs Spokesman Nick Clegg who claimed the “verdict makes it unavoidable that Ian Blair should take responsibility on behalf of his whole organisation and resign.”
In a statement issued this afternoon Mayor Livingstone said:
“Some politicians are playing political games around Sir Ian Blair regardless of the damage will be done to the work of the police against terrorism. This is unacceptable as it literally involves the lives of Londoners.
‘Damage has already been done to anti-terror policing by a prosecution under legislation that was self-evidently not drawn up to deal with anti-terror operations. There is already a danger that police officers who have to take literally life and death decisions in fractions of a second, from Cressida Dick down to the individual officers with guns, will be looking over the shoulders and hesitating because of fears they may be prosecuted under legislation designed for entirely different purposes.
‘If Sir Ian Blair were to resign – when it is obvious that he had been Police Commissioner for just five months at the time of the shooting and could not possibly have overhauled all procedures for dealing with such extreme situations even if they had been inadequate – we would magnify the concerns of every officer on whose bravery and skill we rely to protect Londoners.
‘Under Sir Ian Blair we have record police numbers, a beat police team in every neighbourhood and falling crime, whilst a succession of terror attacks have been successfully foiled or cleared up, a clear record of protecting Londoners which no politician calling for his resignation will ever rival. The work done by Sir Ian and the anti-terrorist squad has been outstanding and Londoners are deeply in their debt.
‘I wouldn’t put the irresponsible politicians attacking the police Commissioner within a million miles of running the kind of anti-terror operations London has had to deal with over the last few years, which have seen many Londoners’ lives saved and terrorist cells closed down.”
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