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John Yates: How the wrong company caught up with a high-flier

Almost from the moment that John Yates joined Scotland Yard in 1981, many of his colleagues in Britain's largest police force believed it was only a matter of time before he became Commissioner.

Considered a safe pair of hands, "Yates of the Yard" seemed the obvious successor to Sir Paul Stephenson. But a series of mishaps culminating in damaging revelations over his relationship with former News of the World deputy editor Neil Wallis brought that dream to an abrupt end yesterday.

"No question John would have made the top job if he'd continued the way he was going," said one Yard source. "There's a real feeling here that the Met have lost a good copper because of a few unfortunate decisions."

His departure followed revelations that Mr Wallis, who was arrested last Friday, was hired by the Met at a time when the force faced growing criticism over its failure to properly investigate criminality at the Sunday tabloid.

Mr Yates, who was Britain's most senior anti-terrorism officer, has faced calls to resign since admitting a week ago that he had mishandled a review of the initial bungled investigation in 2007 into phone hacking.

Educated at Marlborough College and King's College London, he is a passionate Liverpool FC supporter and a long-distance cyclist. He joined the Met in 1981 and led investigations into more than 20 murders. Between 1999 and 2000 he worked as staff officer to the then commissioner, Paul Condon, during the period of the Macpherson Inquiry into the death of black teenager Stephen Lawrence.

In 2001, as a detective superintendent, he led an inquiry into internal police corruption centred on a crime squad based in East Dulwich. It resulted in the jailing of six detectives. Mr Yates further cemented his reputation with his involvement in the perjury case of Lord Jeffrey Archer, as well as the failed prosecution of royal butler Paul Burrell and the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? fraud trial.

In December 2006 he was made Assistant Commissioner, and that same year led the abortive "cash-for-honours" probe, heading the team of detectives investigating allegations that life peerages were awarded in return for loans.

The CPS eventually decided the inquiry had not found enough evidence to prosecute anyone. He was also at the centre of the row over the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes in July 2005 after he was mistaken for a suicide bomber.