Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 26 July 2014

Hugh Orde now tipped to take over as head of Metropolitan Police

Former PSNI Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde is being lined up as one of the favourites to take over as head of the Metropolitan Police, as the phone-hacking scandal continues to rock the force.

Sir Hugh, who narrowly missed out when Sir Paul Stephenson got the job in 2009, is an early frontrunner to become the UK's top policeman.

If successful, Sir Hugh's first job will be to restore public confidence in the force whose reputation has has been threatened by links to Neil Wallis, the former deputy editor of the News of the World and by its failure to properly investigate alleged illegal activities at the now defunct Sunday tabloid.

On Sunday, the force's Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson resigned over the phone-hacking scandal, followed yesterday by Assistant Commissioner John Yates.

Sir Hugh has not yet publicly indicated an intention to put his name forward for the job, however it is understood that he is very much interested in the post.

Although he was disappointed at losing out first time around, he will be acutely aware that had he then been successful, he would have been the one to have just resigned.

"I think it's a job he would want and a job I certainly believe he could do," security writer Brian Rowan said.

"He knows the Met and on any bookie's list of favourites you would expect to see his name there and with short odds.

"He came very close last time and was pipped by Sir Paul Stephenson. He was seven years in Northern Ireland and that has given him all the experience he would need to deal with the pressures and challenges of that very different politicised and political interference.

"While he's not likely to say anything public just yet, don't rule him out," Mr Rowan added.

Taking over as head of the Met would be a natural step for Sir Hugh, who joined the force in 1977, rising quickly through the ranks. He was Deputy Assistant Commissioner by the time he joined the PSNI in 2002.

One factor that may go against him is that after being appointed head of the Association of Chief Police Officers in 2009, he has been away from active duty for the past two years.

There had been speculation that current PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott may also apply for the job. However police sources have said it is highly unlikely.

Others being tipped as potential contenders are Tim Godwin, the Met's Deputy Commissioner, Sir Norman Bettison, Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police and Steve Finnigan, Chief Constable of Lancashire Police.

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