Yard chief survives vote of no confidence

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The Independent Online

Sir Ian Blair, Britain's most senior police officer, survived a vote of no confidence in his leadership of the Metropolitan Police yesterday and vowed to draw a line under sustained criticism of his tenure sparked by the aftermath of the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes.

The 54-year-old commissioner won the support of the Metropolitan Police Authority, the force's governing watchdog, in a vote held at an extraordinary meeting called after Scotland Yard was found guilty at the Old Bailey of needlessly endangering the public during the operation that led to the death of the innocent Brazilian at the hands of armed police in July 2005.

After a stormy, four-hour meeting, during which one member of the authority said Sir Ian should follow the example of the chairman of HM Revenue and Customs this week and resign, the commissioner got 15 votes in his support and seven votes against. One person abstained.

Sir Ian said he would have resigned if he believed it was necessary. "I am a man of honour. If I believed what had happened in this case was appropriate for the resignation of the commissioner, I would have done. I would not have offered my resignation. I would have just resigned."

Although only the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, has the power to dismiss Sir Ian, a vote of no confidence would have made his position untenable.