Belfast Telegraph

Hugh Orde pays price for riot fallout

By Brian Rowan

Former PSNI Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde has again narrowly missed out on the top policing job in the UK - this time to Bernard Hogan-Howe.

Final interviews for the post of Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police were held yesterday with candidates being quizzed by London Mayor Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Theresa May.

It has been reported that Orde scored best of the four applicants in the early stages of a lengthy interviewing process, however he will have known that yesterday was the key decision-making moment.

By mid-afternoon Mr Hogan-Howe - a former Merseyside Chief Constable, who once applied for the top police job in Northern Ireland - had been declared the winner, with Orde understood to be in second place.

It is the second time in two years he has occupied the runner-up position after running Sir Paul Stephenson close in 2009.

There was no comment from Sir Hugh last night but a friend said he will be devastated and will understand this was his last chance to fill Britain's most senior police post.

Orde, President of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), entered the race as probably the police favourite to succeed.

But in all the fallout from the recent riots, some observers predicted that Sir Hugh had a policing face that would not fit the politics of London.

He had clashed with the Prime Minister and Home Secretary on the issues of operational tactics, on how cuts will damage front-line policing and on the decision to appoint American "super-cop" Bill Bratton - seen as a gang-buster - in an advisory role.

Orde's defence of police operational independence will have made him popular with rank-and-file officers, but will have damaged him at that interface where policing and politics can collide.

With seven years in Northern Ireland under his policing belt, he brought to this series of interviews considerable experience in public-order policing, the management and implementation of the sweeping reforms recommended in the Patten Report and, with the London Olympics just a year away, he has counter-terrorism expertise.

So, on paper, he ticked many of the boxes.

But, privately, Sir Hugh was not talking up his chances of winning this race, and he will have known that in places of high politics his recent interventions will not have been appreciated.

He entered close to the deadline - one of four candidates alongside Mr Hogan-Howe, the Strathclyde Chief Constable Stephen House, and Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin.

Belfast Telegraph


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