Paul McKeever, who led the Police Federation of England and Wales through one of the service's most challenging periods of major spending cuts and the "Plebgate" affair, has died in hospital.
Mr McKeever, 57, who represented 140,000 officers from the rank of constable to chief inspector, died on Thursday after a suspected embolism. He became chairman of the federation in 2008 and was due to retire later this month.
His death follows a turbulent year for the police service when he was a vocal opponent of the Government's plans to change police pay and conditions and had voiced concerns over the impact of 20 per cent budget cuts on law and order.
The organisation was set for a shake-up following the Plebgate affair, in which it was criticised for its outspoken attacks on Andrew Mitchell, who was then the Government Chief Whip.
Mr McKeever's successor, Steve Williams, said: "He was a truly outstanding chairman, and most importantly a truly outstanding police officer and man. A true gentleman, his leadership and reputation will be remembered by all those who knew him."
Mr McKeever joined the Metropolitan Police in the 1970s.