London Mayor Boris Johnson has told the Home Secretary he believes the Metropolitan Police needs “a fairly lengthy consolidation period” before a permanent successor to Sir Ian Blair is appointed. The Mayor’s comment were made in a letter sent to Jacqui Smith and released this evening by City Hall.
Sir Ian resigned on Thursday after the Mayor made clear that he had no confidence in him.
Several reports have claimed Blair’s ousting was the culmination of a Tory “plot” and that Johnson is hoping to delay the appointment of a new Commissioner until there is a Conservative Home Secretary. Johnson has denied both allegations.
In his letter Mayor Johnson proposes that Deputy Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson run the force during the “lengthy” interregnum and suggests “it would be sensible to consider whether the MPS’s fairly extensive experience of conducting ACPO rank appointments might be useful in proposing other stages to the process, such as psychometric testing.”
Johnson also makes clear his determination to have a major say in the appointment of a successor. His letter states:
“As to the selection process itself I note that what you propose for shortlisting and final selection is very similar to that followed when Sir Ian was appointed in 2005. Perhaps it would be sensible to consider whether the MPS’s fairly extensive experience of conducting ACPO rank appointments might be useful in proposing other stages to the process, such as psychometric testing.
You might, on the other hand, share my view that at this most senior level of appointment the best result is achieved by a short, tight and pragmatic set of interviews, conducted by you and me alone at the shortlisting and final interview stage, with an interim panel interview conducted by MPA members to inform the recommendations to be made by the Authority, as required by the legislation.”
By the law the appointment of the Commissioner is currently the responsibility of the Home Secretary.
Speaking before Johnson’s letter was published, Labour’s leader on the London Assembly said the force “must not be allowed to drift without firm leadership”. Len Duvall said Sir Ian’s successor “must, as with previous appointments, be made totally on merit; not on party political bias”.