Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe’s resignation could lead to first ever female Met Police commissioner

The 58-year-old will step down in February next year after the Mayor of London and the Home Secretary appoint his replacement

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The Independent Online

A woman could be poised to become Britain’s most senior police officer for the very first time as Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe announces his retirement after five years in charge.

The Metropolitan Police said the Commissioner will remain in his post until February 2017 to allow the Home Secretary and Mayor of London to appoint a successor.

Some have suggested the top three most likely candidates for the job include the Director-General of the Foreign Office and former Deputy Commissioner at the Met Cressida Dick, chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) Sara Thornton and Met Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley.

Sir Bernard, who was appointed in September 2011, said: “It has been a great privilege to be the Met’s Commissioner. I have loved my time in the role and I have loved being a police officer.

“It’s the most rewarding of jobs to protect good people and lock up the bad guys.”

Ms Dick, who was Britain’s most high-profile female police officer until she left to join the Foreign Office in 2014, has held several key posts within Scotland Yard during her 31-year career there.

The 54-year-old was responsible for leading the force’s response to the 9/11 attacks in the US and the 7/7 bombings in London in 2005.

But she faced criticism over her handling of the Jean Charles de Menezes scandal.

The Brazilian electrican was wrongly identified as a suicide bomber after the 7/7 bombings and was shot dead in 2005 at Stockwell station. As the senior commander in charge of the operation she was heavily criticised but was cleared of wrongdoing by a jury even though the force as a whole was found guilty of unlawful killing.

Former Met Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick is reportedly in line for the role (AFP/Getty)

Ms Thornton was appointed as the first chair of the NPCC in April 2015 after serving as Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police for eight years. 

Mr Rowley was appointed Assistant Commissioner at the Met in April 2011 after previously serving as the Chief Constable of Surrey Police.

The announcement of Sir Bernard’s retirement came after London Mayor Sadiq Khan hinted that he wanted to choose his own commissioner.

On the campaign trail in February, he said it would not be right to give Sir Bernard a “public appraisal” but suggested his “priorities” for the role were different.

In January, in the wake of Sir Bernard’s handling of the Westminster child sex abuse probe, the then Home Secretary Theresa May announced she was only extending his five-year contract – due to expire this month – by an additional year to September.

In February, Sir Bernard was forced to apologise to the widow of former Home Secretary Leon Brittan for not telling him that he would not face charges over a rape allegation from 1967.

He said he had had a “private conversation” with Lady Brittan and offered a “full apology” for not telling the former MP that he was in the clear before he died in January 2015.

The probe by four police forces including Scotland Yard, also known as Operation Midland, was shut down in March this year without any charges being brought, having cost £1.8m since its launch in November 2014. 

One former MP accused during the inquiry, Harvey Proctor, called on the four police chiefs involved to resign over their conduct. He was interviewed under caution in August 2015 but has always denied any allegations of abuse.  

Mr Khan declined to comment on the speculation about his role in Sir Bernard’s departure or who his successor is likely to be. 

He said: “I would like to thank Bernard for his years of service and dedication to keeping Londoners safe – I have enjoyed working closely together with him over the past five months.

“Bernard oversaw the excellent policing of the 2012 Olympic Games and has taken big steps towards making our police service more representative of London.

“I will work closely with the Home Secretary to ensure we find the best possible candidate to appoint as the new Commissioner, so that we can continue to keep Londoners safe.”