Was Boris Johnston right to force out Sir Ian Blair?
When you hold the top job in any walk of life you are expected to be a leader. You may have got the job as a result of your managerial capabilities, your political manoeuvrings, your longevity, or any one of a number of reasons. But once you have got the job, you are on your own and the spotlight is on you.
Being a leader then is not just about doing the right things, it is about being seen to do the right things. It’s about creating confidence in those around you. It’s about being a catalyst, the “king pin”, the final piece in the jigsaw. But most of all, it’s about setting standards through your words, actions and deeds.
Regardless of what Sir Ian Blair did or did not do during his time as Commissioner, on this final criteria his position as the country’s most senior Police officer was clearly untenable – just consider the evidence:
After the horrific murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chatman in Soham in 2002 Sir Ian said that “almost nobody” could understand why so much coverage had been given to the murders in the press. He later apologised for his comments.
He became the butt of jokes by colleagues after it became known that while secretly recording conversations between himself and the Attorney General, he had also recorded conversations with his elderly mother.
After the MET was found guilty of breaching health and safety laws in the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes, Sir Ian refused to resign on the grounds that the case has not highlighted any “systemic failures”.
Most recently, Sir Ian has been accused of influencing the award of contracts worth more than £3m to a firm run by his best friend.
For me though, the most damming evidence against Sir Ian was the row he had with his deputy, Sir Paul Stephenson, following the Jean Charles de Menezes shooting. Sir Ian said that he would be applying for his bonus and wanted his senior colleagues to do the same. Sir Paul, recognising that with seniority comes accountability, did the honourable thing and refused.
So was Boris Johnston right to sack Sir Ian Blair? Absolutely YES!
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