Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Ian Blair has blamed a break down in his relationship with London mayor Boris Johnson as the main reason for his shock resignation today.
This afternoon Blair announced he will resign on 1 December after just three years in the top job. The news comes on the day that papers reported yet another scandal involving Blair, who is facing an internal inquiry – headed by potential successor, chief inspector of constabulary, Sir Ronnie Flanagan – over the use public money to pay a close friend to sharpen his image. However, the commissioner insisted he was not resigning because of any “failures” by the Met but because he did not have the full backing of new London mayor Boris Johnson.
In a statement on the Met’s website, Blair said: “I am resigning not because of any failures by my service and not because the pressures of the office and the many stories that surround it are too much. I am resigning in the best interests of the people of London and the Metropolitan Police Service.”
He added: “I understand that to serve effectively the commissioner must have the confidence of both the mayor and the home secretary. Without the mayor’s backing, I do not consider that I can continue in the job. Personally, I see no bar to working effectively with the new mayor, but it is there that we differ and hence I am unable to continue.”
Blair was hoping to continue in post until his term of office expired in February 2010. He has faced a string of criticisms, including the racism row involving the Met’s most senior Asian Officer Tarique Ghaffur, questions over the way he handled the events surrounding the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes and the current inquiry into the use of public money to pay a close friend to advise him.
“The home secretary has asked that I should stay for enough time for the process of appointing my successor to [begin]. I will, therefore, leave office on 1 December 2008, giving the home secretary and the Metropolitan Police Authority time to make plans for the appointment of my successor,” he said.