Top cop 'too outspoken for Downing St'

Former Northern Ireland police chief Sir Hugh Orde is one of the most accomplished police officers in the United Kingdom.

His suitability for Britain's top policing job is seemingly beyond doubt. Despite this, serious questions are being asked about whether the president of the Association of Chief Police Officers should be chosen head of the Metropolitan Police in London.

He is one of four candidates who will appear before the Home Secretary, Theresa May, and London's Mayor Boris Johnson to be interviewed for the role. Others applying include Tim Godwin, Scotland Yard's acting commissioner, Bernard Hogan-Howe, the acting deputy, and Strathclyde's chief constable, Stephen House.

One police source familiar with the process noted: "Hugh is the best candidate by a country mile, but I don't think he'll get it. He's far too outspoken, and No 10 thinks he called the Prime Minister stupid." One senior source put it bluntly: "It's pure pique. [David] Cameron doesn't like being challenged."

Senior Home Office figures insisted no decision had yet been made, but they remained certain that Orde would not survive beyond the interview stage. "He has some support here," one insider said, "because he has always shown himself to be very competent. It is clear, though, that whatever he does, his face doesn't fit with Downing Street."

Orde's criticism of the PM's decision to appoint former US police chief Bill Bratton to examine the policing issues raised by the riots did not help his case. Orde is thought to be a favourite of Johnson, a fact which may count against him at No 10 because of the rivalry between the two politicians.

- INDEPENDENT

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