Sir Ian Blair: Renaissance copper whose mettle has been tested by bomb attacks
Friday 19 August 2005
It has proved to be a winning combination for Britain's most senior police officer who has enjoyed something of a honeymoon period since he succeeded Sir John Stevens as Met Commissioner in February.
But this week's revelations have left Sir Ian badly exposed, and may cost him his job.
It's a scenario that few could have predicted when Sir Ian, an Oxford-educated police officer with impeccable policing credentials, first agreed to take the job last year.
The 52-year-old son of middle-class parents from Cheshire is something of a renaissance policeman.
At Oxford he read English and first developed ambitions of becoming an actor. In public he frequently draws from his literary hinterland by quoting both philosophers and writers. Recently he was heard discussing Richard Dawkins's theories of evolution with the novelist Ian McEwan at a party in Hampstead.
His mix of academic pedigree and hands-on achievement has helped him in his campaign to convince the rank and file that they must stamp out racism and sexism in the Met. Inevitably such a liberal-leaning agenda has drawn attacks from parts of the media who call him the "PC PC".
Concerns are growing about his political judgement. While he has been more than happy to lavish praise on his officers for their role in the fight against terror, particularly after the London bombings, he has been less willing to confront their shortcomings.
His remark that his officers were "very tired men and women, but they are wearing big grins" was followed a few days later by the insensitive claim that Jean Charles de Menezes had been "directly linked" to the investigation. Later he argued that the "underlying cause" of the death was not police action, but terrorism.
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