Ian Blair


Ian Blair

Infobox Person


image_size = 350px
name=Sir Ian Blair
caption=Sir Ian Blair, QPM
Commissioner
Metropolitan Police Service
birth_date=Birth date and age|1953|3|19|df=y
Sir Ian Warwick Blair, QPM MA (born 19 March 1953) is a senior British police officer who holds the position of Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis, or head of the Metropolitan Police Service.

Blair is responsible for the policing of London, with the exception of the City of London, policed by its own City of London Police, commanded by its own Commissioner.

As the head of the Metropolitan Police, Blair has often been regarded as the most senior police officer in the United Kingdom, though technically his authority was confined to his own force. His rank, Commissioner, is a higher one than the Chief Constables who are the heads of other territorial police forces

In 2008, it was reported that "Britain's most senior police officer has been put on notice that he faces being axed unless he dramatically cuts crime." The warning was delivered at a meeting between Boris Johnson, the new London mayor, and Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan police commissioner. [ [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article3867817.ece Boris Johnson tells Met chief to cut crime – or else, Times Online] ] [ [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article4426048.ece Boris Johnson in plot to oust Sir Ian Blair, Times Online] ]

On 2 October 2008, Blair released a statement to the effect that he would stand down from his post on 1 December of the same year. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7648664.stm BBC News - "Met chief Sir Ian Blair resigns"] ]

Education and early career

After attending Wrekin College, Shropshire and Harvard High School, Los Angeles, Blair read English Language and English Literature at Christ Church, Oxford, and was awarded a second-class degree.Biography - Metropolitan Police Service website - http://www.met.police.uk/about/blair.htm]

He commenced his police career in 1974, joining under the graduate entry scheme. He started with the rank of Police Constable in the Soho area of London, and served in both uniform and CID in central London over the next 17 years.

"The Guardian" published on 30 March 2007 a story detailing inconsistencies between an account Blair gave of his involvement in the Balcombe Street Siege on the night of 6 December 1975, and the recollections of others involved at the time. In a 2006 interview, Sir Ian had stated "We turned the corner, and there is the car," he recalled. "It was a very defining moment. I think I spent the next half an hour pretending to be a bush. They got out of the car and started firing at us. It is an interesting experience being fired at when you have absolutely nothing to fire back with ... I loved it. I loved the job." Steve Moysey, a U.S.-based British academic, who researched and published a highly detailed history of the IRA campaign in London, and the resulting Balcombe Street siege ["The Road To Balcombe Street", Steven Moysey, Haworth (2007), ISBN 0789029138] , was puzzled by apparent inconsistencies and contacted John Purnell, who with his partner Phil McVeigh, were the first policemen to confront the Balcombe Street gang. Purnell said: "I've never for one second associated Ian Blair with Balcombe Street in any shape or form, and his account of seeing [the terrorists] get out of the car and being shot at as they got out of the car is totally impossible." Blair admitted he had not personally seen the IRA men getting out of their car and opening fire, and stated "I didn't see it and I didn't say I saw it." He also added that he had briefly joined the car chase after encountering the IRA car in Park Street near the original shooting. "We turned into Park Street and there were two or three vehicles in front of us going extremely fast." He believed one was the "bandit car" and another may have been a taxi, but Sir Ian and his sergeant were not able to keep up "because we were driving a Hillman Hunter which has a top speed of 25mph minus". The actual top speed of the least powerful Hillman Hunter in 1975 was 83mph and the top speed of a 70s-era taxi was 60mph. According to Purnell: "There was no chase. It was just going along at a normal speed. [The IRA men] actually said later they didn't know they were being followed." [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,,2046284,00.html Guardian story; The strange case of the Met chief and the IRA siege] , accessed 30 March 2007] [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/menezes/story/0,,2208758,00.html So long, Sir Ian] , The Guardian, 10 November 2007]

In 1985, he was Detective Chief Inspector at CID in Kentish Town, north London, in which role he was responsible for identifying the victims of the King's Cross fire. He reached the rank of Chief Superintendent in 1991, and then spent two years outside the Met as Staff Officer in HM Inspectorate of Constabulary.

In 1994, he moved to Thames Valley Police as Assistant Chief Constable, and that same year took charge of policing the protests over the construction of the Newbury bypass. Blair became Deputy Chief Constable for the Thames Valley Police in 1997. He was awarded the Queen's Police Medal in 1999 and received a knighthood in the Queen's Birthday Honours in 2003 for services to the Police.

Blair was formerly Deputy Commissioner, and before that Chief Constable of Surrey Police.

As Deputy Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, he gained a reputation for being a "thinking man's policeman". He called for more female, ethnic minority and gay recruits. In 2002 he publicly stated that "Society cannot duck the fact that most muggers are black", and in response the National Black Police Association stated that black recruits could be deterred by such comments. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/3960505.stm Next Met police chief announced] , BBC News, 28 October 2004] .

Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis

Blair took up his post as Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis on 1 February 2005, taking over from Sir John Stevens (now Lord Stevens of Kirkwhelpington).

hooting of de Menezes

Several months into his tenure, he was heavily involved in an investigation into the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes by anti-terrorist police who mistakenly believed he was a suicide bomber. After Blair learned that the shooting of de Menezes had been mistaken, he briefly considered resigning. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4269502.stm "Police head 'considered quitting'"] , BBC, 22 September 2005] On 1 November 2007, a jury convicted the Metropolitan Police of violating health and safety laws, highlighting 19 "catastrophic errors" but said it was an "isolated breach under quite extraordinary circumstances". [ [http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/legal/article3121159.ece De Menezes shooting: Police guilty of 'catastrophic errors'] , The Independent, 2 November 2007] Blair rejected a vote of no confidence by the London Assembly a week later. [ [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/crime/article2824751.ece Sir Ian Blair defies no confidence motion] , Times Online, 7 November 2007] Blair continued to receive the support of the Metropolitan Police Authority, the head of which said that he would not have accepted any resignation offered by Blair. [ [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/crime/article2824751.ece Sir Ian Blair defies no confidence motion] , Times Online, 7 November 2007]

Bonus pay

Sir Ian Blair was also criticised by senior colleagues at Scotland Yard after he sought a £25,000 performance bonus during criminal proceedings over the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes, while on a salary of £228,000 and while rank-and-file officers were facing the prospect of pay cuts.cite news | first=Mark | last=Townsend | coauthors= | title=The 15 fatal failures that could sink Blair | date=November 4 2007 | publisher=Guardian Media Group | url =http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2007/nov/04/menezes.terrorism | work =The Guardian | pages = | accessdate = 2008-10-04 | language = ] Blair wrote an angry letter to his deputy, Paul Stephenson, effectively accusing him of disloyalty after discovering that he had formally waived his own bonus.cite news | first=David | last=Leppard | coauthors= | title=Police top brass revolt over bonus for Met chief | date=October 21, 2007 | publisher=News International | url =http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/crime/article2702893.ece | work =The Times | pages = | accessdate = 2008-10-04 | language = ] Colleagues accused him of behaviour which was “extraordinary”, of being “self-centred” and lacking judgment.

Terrorism

In November 2005, a controversy about detention without charge proposals led to Blair becoming involved in allegations of the police being "politicised" when he and other senior police officers were known to have lobbied MPs to support Government proposals to hold terrorist suspects for 90 days. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4429716.stm "'Political police' prompts questions"] , BBC, 11 November 2005]

After the failure of the raid in Forest Gate, in June 2006 several sources once again called on Ian Blair to resign. Prime Minister Tony Blair confirmed his support for the Commissioner. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/5071010.stm "Met chief defended amid raid row"] , BBC, 12 June 2006]

Conflicts of interest

IT contract

The Metropolitan Police Authority requested on 28 July 2008 that Ian Blair face an inquiry over a series of IT contracts with the Metropolitan Police worth £3 million won by Impact Plus, a consultancy owned by Andy Miller, who is a long-time friend of Ian Blair. [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article4419616.ece Sir Ian Blair to be investigated over £3m contracts to friend] , Times Online, 29 June 2008] The commissioner denied any wrongdoing and said that he was "open and straightforward in informing both the Metropolitan Police Service and the MPA about [his] relationship [with Miller] ". He said that he had set out in writing his connection with Miller and had no part in the evaluation process. It has however been reported in the press that on one occasion another company was turned down for a contract won by Impact Plus, despite its bid being a third of the winning offer.

No bid PR contract

In October 2008 it was reported that Blair had used public money to pay an estimated £15,000 to Impact Plus, owned by a skiing partner and close friend of Sir Ian for 30 years Andy Miller.cite news | first= | last= | coauthors= | title=Met chief Sir Ian Blair 'paid friend five-figure sum to help him sharpen his image' | date=03 October 2008 | publisher=Daily Mail and General Trust | url =http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1066305/Met-chief-Sir-Ian-Blair-paid-friend-figure-sum-help-sharpen-image.html | work =Daily Mail | pages = | accessdate = 2008-10-04 | language = ] [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7648664.stm BBC News] 2 October 2008] Controversially no other company was invited to bid for the public relations contract. Martin Samphire of Impact Plus became Blair's 'image consultant'. Impact Plus received more than £3 million of police work from Scotland Yard over the six-year period of Ian Blair's rule.

Race relations

In June 2008, Commander Shabir Hussain alleged being repeatedly rejected for promotion owing to racial discrimination, explicitly suggesting that Ian Blair was using his influence to favour a "golden circle" of white officers and to turn down applications made by black and Asian candidates, who were better qualified for the promotion. [ [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article4200135.ece Ian Blair wouldn’t promote me because I am not white, says top Asian policeman] , Times Online, 24 June 2008] In another case, the country's senior Asian police officer Tarique Ghaffur was considering commencing an employment tribunal over being sidelined by Sir Ian Blair in Olympics security planning, and being asked to keep quiet about his concerns about the new 42 days detention laws for terror suspects. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7473821.stm Top Asian officer in race claim] , BBC News, 25 June 2008] In a subsequent press conference, Ghaffur claimed to have been victimised in a face-to-face meeting with Blair, who threatened to remove him from his post if he went ahead with his legal action. [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2008/aug/29/police.race Top Asian officer sets out race case and directly blames Met police chief] , The Guardian, 29 August 2008]

In January 2006 he attracted considerable controversy when he described the media as institutionally racist [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/4651368.stm "Met chief accuses media of racism"] , BBC, 26 January 2006] (a charge that has also been levelled at the police) for its allegedly unbalanced coverage of crimes against white people, such as in the murder of Tom ap Rhys Pryce as compared to that given to crimes against those from ethnic minorities. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/4654224.stm The story of two murder victims] , BBC, 27 January 2006] As an example, he had referred to the murder of two young girls in Soham in 2002. He said "almost nobody" understood why it became such a big story. However, he was forced to issue a hurried apology to the parents of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/4653130.stm "Blair apologises to Soham parents"] , BBC, 27 January 2006]

During a passing-out ceremony of the Metropolitan Police held in December 2006, an unnamed female Muslim police officer refused to shake hands with Ian Blair on religious grounds. She also refused to have a picture taken with him, for fear of its being used for "propaganda purposes". According to Scotland Yard, Ian Blair questioned the validity of her refusal. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6284231.stm "Police respond to handshake snub"] , BBC, 21 January 2007] [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/6284347.stm "Muslim Pc refused to shake hands"] , 21 January 2007]

Miscellaneous issues

ecretly taped telephone conversations

In March 2006, pressure was again put on Sir Ian to resign after it was revealed that in late 2005 he had secretly taped several telephone conversations, most notably with the Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4800172.stm "Met chief in phone recording row"] , BBC, 13 March 2006] Although Blair received widespread criticism, the chairman of the Metropolitan Police Authority, while describing his actions as "totally unacceptable", said it was not a resigning matter. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4801032.stm "Met chief taping 'unacceptable'"] , BBC, 13 March 2006] Much of the latest furore may be attributed to Blair's recent track record of courting controversy with his publicly expressed views. In his defence it has been pointed out that the recording was not illegal and it was said to be simply to enable an accurate record to be taken for him in the absence of a note taker. [ [http://politics.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,1730290,00.html "Media humbug over phone recording"] , The Guardian, 14 March 2006]

ingle police force

Blair has stated that he would prefer to see a single police force for Greater London, an opinion shared by Ken Livingstone, with the functions of both the City of London Police and the British Transport Police absorbed by the Metropolitan Police. [ [http://www.alg.gov.uk/doc.asp?doc=15674&cat=1959 "Met Chief outlines merger talks of London police"] , Association of London Government, 20 October 2005] Already, the duties and functions of one police force (the Royal Parks Constabulary) have been taken by the Met. However, both the City of London Police [ [http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/03/20/business/city.php "For City of London, police merger is a crime"] , International Herald Tribune, 20 March 2006] and BTP [ [http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200506/cmselect/cmtran/1070/1070i.pdf Future of the British Transport Police] HoC Transport Committee. 16 May 2006 ] have expressed their strong objections to this proposal, while the Home Office has stated that reorganisation of policing in London is not on their agenda. The publication of reviews into the operation of the British Transport Police, [ [http://www.dft.gov.uk/stellent/groups/dft_railways/documents/page/dft_railways_612143.hcsp Review of the British Transport Police] DfT 20 July 2006] and the national review of fraud by the Attorney General, [ [http://www.lslo.gov.uk/pressreleases/Final_Fraud_Review_release_24_07_06.doc National Fraud Review Final Report] LSLO, 24 July 2006] combined with the ending of the police merger proposals for England and Wales, appear to rule out any possibility of police mergers in London for the foreseeable future.

Corruption cover up?

On 31 August 2008, The Independent reported that Blair may be facing another inquiry related to an alleged cover-up of the corruption of a senior officer, murdered Special Constable Nisha Patel-Nasri and her partner, turning a blind eye over accusations (in 2003) that the couple were running a prostitution racket. Sir Ian Blair was then in charge of the Metropolitan Police's anti-corruption unit. [ [http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/accusations-of-met-coverup-put-more-heat-on-ian-blair-913940.html Accusations of Met cover-up put more heat on Ian Blair] , The Independent, 31 August 2008]

Brian Haw

Blair received further criticism when 78 police officers were involved in an operation to confiscate placards displayed by protester Brian Haw. After he initially told the Metropolitan Police Authority that the operation had cost £7,200, it later emerged that it had in fact cost £27,000. [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/antiwar/story/0,,1786523,00.html "Farce as peace campaigner has another day in court"] , The Guardian, 31 May 2006]

Haringey comments

In comments to The Times, [ [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/crime/article614723.ece] The Times] Ian Blair claimed that the London Borough of Haringey is a safe enough place to leave doors unlocked. However, Metropolitan Police Authority member Damian Hockney has described Sir Ian's remarks as "truly extraordinary". [ [http://newsforums.bbc.co.uk/nol/thread.jspa?sortBy=2&threadID=3361&&&&edition=2&ttl=20070222181401#paginator] BBC News]

Resignation

It had been widely reported in the press, as of May 2008, that Ian Blair's contract as Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service would not be renewed when it expired in 2010. [ [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1984019/Met-police-chief-Ian-Blair-on-way-out,-say-rumours.html] , Telegraph.co.uk, 19 May 2008] Sir Ian was allegedly alerted to this by the Chairman of the Metropolitan Police Authority, Len Duvall.

"The Telegraph" reported that his "job had been in peril since firearms officers mistakenly killed the innocent Brazilian electrician Jean Charles de Menezes on 22 July 2005. Just before the mayoral election which established Boris Johnson as the new Mayor of London, Duvall told Sir Ian that his five-year contract would not be renewed upon its expiration.

On 2 October 2008 Blair announced he would resign as Metropolitan Police Commissioner, with effect from 1 December 2008. He blamed a lack of support from London mayor Boris Johnson, saying that "without the mayor's backing I do not think I can continue". Home Secretary Jacqui Smith and Prime Minister Gordon Brown paid tribute to Blair's service. Sir Paul Stephenson will take over on an acting basis until a successor is appointed. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/7648664.stm BBC News] , 2 October 2008] [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2008/oct/02/ian.blair.resigns] , "The Guardian", 2 October 2008]

Pay package

Blair is entitled to a full police pension, estimated to be worth about £160,000 per year, based on his £240,000 commissioner’s salary.cite news | first= | last= | coauthors= | title=Boris Johnson forces Sir Ian Blair to quit as police chief | date=October 3, 2008 | publisher=News International | url =http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/crime/article4868974.ece | work =The Times | pages = | accessdate = 2008-10-04 | language = ] Blair could receive his £234,000-a-year salary until his contract expires in February 2010. However, Sir Ian will lose his chauffeur-driven car and use of a £1 million flat in south-west London. cite news | first= | last= | coauthors= | title=Sir Ian Blair's £350,000 send off | date= | publisher=Daily Mail and General Trust | url =http://www.metro.co.uk/news/article.html?Sir_Ian_Blairs_%A3350,000_send_off&in_article_id=337520&in_page_id=34 | work =Metro | pages = | accessdate = 2008-10-04 | language = ]

Ranks & honours

* PC Ian Blair (1974-various ranks-1985)
* DCI Ian Blair (1985-1988)
* Supt. Ian Blair (1988-1991)
* Ch. Supt. Ian Blair (1991-1994)
* Asst. Ch. Const. Ian Blair (1994-1997)
* Dep. Ch. Const. Ian Blair (1997-1998)
* Chief Constable Ian Blair (1998-1999)
* Chief Constable Ian Blair QPM (1999-2000)
* Dep. Comm. Ian Blair QPM (2000-2003)
* Dep. Comm. Sir Ian Blair QPM (2003-2005)
* Commissioner Sir Ian Blair QPM (2005-2008)

The various ranks that Blair would have held between 1974 and 1985 are Constable/Detective Constable, Sergeant/Detective Sergeant and Inspector/Detective Inspector.

References

Bibliography

*"Investigating Rape: A New Approach for Police" (1985)

External links

* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/london/3960881.stm Sir Ian Blair profile at BBC News]
* [http://www.met.police.uk/about/blair.htm Biography on the Metropolitan Police website]

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