The pounds 62,500-a-year post will be re-advertised, with fluency in Welsh 'an advantage'. Three of those short-listed could not speak the mother tongue of more than one-third of the population. North Wales police authority wanted to appoint John Tecwyn Owen, the Welsh-speaking deputy chief constable.
Formerly assistant chief constable in North Wales, John Tecwyn Owen's appointment would have breached 1976 guidelines, which require senior officers to gain experience in more than one force.
Mr Howard would have vetoed the appointment and he angered the authority by refusing to receive a delegation anxious to explain why it wanted a Welsh-speaking chief.