Met Police chief defends £65k Range Rover purchase after budget cuts warning
Britain's most senior police officer has defended buying a £65,000 Range Rover with a £1,000 back seat entertainment system, insisting he uses the TVs to watch the news.
Scotland Yard chief Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe came under fire for taking delivery of the luxury vehicle within days of publicly warning that the safety of London was being put at risk by planned £1 billion budget cuts over four years.
Speaking on Nick Ferrari's show on LBC, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner said he needed to replace his old Range Rover, which had done 130,000 miles and had started breaking down.
"All we've done is replace the old one, it's not that I've bought a very good car for myself compared to what it was before, it was just a replacement. We actually delayed that replacement by two years. I was told I should replace it two years ago. We were losing £600 million at the time and I didn't think it was very sensible.
"But the car has now done 130,000 miles and it's getting less reliable and at some point it has to be replaced."
Sir Bernard said he needs a big car to accommodate his security team.
"You can argue should it be such a nice car. Well, I do have some security arrangements which means there are more than one of us in the car, and it has to be quite a big one," he said.
"The in-house entertainment ... what it means is I do get access to Sky News and a few other things because that's the way my life runs.
"I have to run a big organisation and be responsible and be accountable to 8.6 million people often through the press or through MPs and other people who are elected so we have to respond quickly.
"Things like that may seem a luxury, but I don't sit there all day watching TV, put it that way."
The force took delivery of the car in October, and a week later an interview with the Commissioner was published in the Evening Standard in which he said planned budget cuts could mean the loss of up to 8,000 police officers.
He told the newspaper: "I genuinely worry about the safety of London."
The following month Chancellor George Osborne said there would be no further cuts to the police budget after errors were revealed in the formula used to calculate funding.