Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

BORIS IN ALL-OUT POLICE WARFARE; Battle Dress: Mayor Boris Johnson at an Official Function Last Night. He Faces a Political Wrangle over Sir Ian Blair's Successor

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

BORIS IN ALL-OUT POLICE WARFARE; Battle Dress: Mayor Boris Johnson at an Official Function Last Night. He Faces a Political Wrangle over Sir Ian Blair's Successor

Article excerpt

Byline: PIPPA CRERAR, JUSTIN DAVENPORT

SCOTLAND YARD was at the centre of a political storm today from the fall-out over the departure of Sir Ian Blair.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith and Boris Johnson appeared to be at war over the choice of his successor.

It comes after the Mayor forced out the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, insisting it was time for a new figure to lead the fight against crime.

The Mayor's deputy Kit Malthouse said the decision was not about politics but "effective policing".

However, Mr Johnson suggested that no permanent successor was needed until the Tories took over at Downing Street and could pick their own man.

But he was immediately challenged by an angry Ms Smith who told him that he was trying to put himself above the law. By statute, only the Home Secretary can appoint and dismiss a Met police commissioner.

"There's a process in place that the Mayor chose not to respect," she said. Friends of Sir Ian, who offered to stay on until his replacement was found, said he was told by the Mayor: "We don't want a successor appointed. We will have an acting arrangement until a Conservative home secretary arrives." Sir Ian is poised for a speedy return to public life with a peerage and possibly a government post.

Whitehall sources said ministers Sir Ian set to be given a peerage were furious that Mr Johnson was treating Sir Ian's future as though it were only a matter for London, and not the whole country.

Labour rolled out its heavy- hitters last night to attack the Mayor for his move. Ms Smith told BBC's Question Time: " What is important when you are both choosing and when you are supporting someone you are asking to do a job like that, is that you keep party politics out of it, you are careful that the processes that are in place are followed carefully, you need to work alongside people and frankly, you should put a bit of time and effort into that before you jump to judgment." However, Mr Malthouse said: " This has been a long- term thing, this isn't a sudden thing there's a general feeling that we just didn't like the way he did the job. It was not a political decision that was the last thing in our minds. …

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