Off with the head of the Tower of London after Beefeater row

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The Independent Online

Life inside the Tower of London had improved across the centuries, Major-General Keith Cima claimed three years ago, after being appointed Governor of one of London's oldest and most distinctive landmarks.

"The Tower of London is a village with all the tensions and joys of village life," he wrote. "In 1598, my predecessor Sir John Peyton complained that the Yeoman Warders were 'given to drunckeness (sic), disorders and quarrels'. Things are better now."

But not much better, to judge by a terse statement released yesterday by Historic Royal Palaces, the charity that manages the Tower and other buildings. The Governor has been sacked after a disciplinary hearing.

No reason was given yesterday for General Keith Cima's dismissal from his £90,000-a-year post. A spokesperson for Historic Royal Palaces said: "We can confirm that following a disciplinary process and appeal, Major General Keith Cima's employment as Resident Governor of the Tower of London has been terminated. Since this is a confidential personnel matter, we will not be commenting on it any further."

It is the second time during General Cima's short tenure in the job that the Tower has been in the news for the wrong reasons. In the article he wrote for The Daily Telegraph in July 2007, General Cima also proudly mentioned that for the first time, a female Beefeater was joining the staff. But two years later, the Tower management had to admit that two Beefeaters had been suspended and a third was being investigated after claims that the female Beefeater, Moira Cameron, was being harassed and bullied.

General Cima and his family will have to move out of their luxury grace-and-favour rented home, The Queen's House, built within the tower precincts in 1540. The family has another home in Brittany.

Living in The Tower

*The top man at the Tower of London – and historically, in the absence of the Sovereign, the most powerful man in London – is the Constable, currently former head of the army, General Sir Richard Dannatt. Since 1784, the five-year post has been held by a senior military officer.

*The Chief Yeoman Warder is responsible for the Tower's 35 "Beefeaters". It is currently John Keohane who has served there for two decades after a 27-year career in the army. Inside the ancient walls, the Tower is like a small village where 120 people, including the Yeoman Warders and their families, live. The community has its own doctor, chaplain and pub – The Tower of London Club.

*The Ceremony of The Keys is performed nightly at 9.53pm. The Chief Yeoman, carrying a brass lantern and the Queens Keys, locks the outer gates with an escort from the main body of the guard. The seven-minute ceremony has been performed without fail for more than 700 years. It was delayed for several minutes in 1941, when bombs fell on the old Victorian guardroom.

*Raven Master Ray Stones looks after the Tower's seven ravens, five of which are female. Legend has it that if their number should drop below six or if they leave the fortress, the kingdom will fall.