Boris and Met chief to face watchdog

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Indy Politics

Boris Johnson's involvement in the toppling of the former Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Ian Blair is to come under the spotlight again after it was revealed the two men are to be summoned by Westminster's standards watchdog.

The Mayor and London's outgoing police chief will be called to give evidence to the Committee on Standards in Public Life as part of a wide-ranging investigation into the workings of the mayor's office, eight years after it was set up.

The chairman of the committee, Sir Christopher Kelly, said he expected the pair to be on the list of witnesses summoned.

Sir Ian, who officially leaves his post on 1 December, revealed during his resignation speech last month that he had been asked to step down by Mr Johnson during his first meeting with the Mayor.

He explained that the new Mayor had "made clear, in a very pleasant and determined way, that he wished there to be a change of leadership". According to the constitution of the office, power over the appointment and dismissal of the commissioner should lie with the Home Secretary, not the Mayor.

The Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, was fuming over Mr Johnson's involvement in Sir Ian's departure, arguing he had no constitutional right to force the resignation.

She also wrote to the newly installed mayor in the aftermath of Sir Ian's resignation, outlining her concerns over his intervention. Mr Johnson said that any suggestion he had been involved in a plot to remove the commissioner was "completely barking" and also denied that his desire for a new Met leader was party-political. Critics of the former Met commissioner said Sir Ian had become too associated with new Labour.

A spokeswoman for the Mayor said that no formal invitation had been made asking him to appear before the watchdog.

The committee, which will report its findings next autumn, will examine the way in which "decisions are made and scrutinised" and "how office holders are held to account".

It will also be examining other new models of local government to have emerged, including the performance of Britain's 12 other elected mayors.

It also emerged yesterday that Sir Ian would be walking away from his job with a substantial pay-off.

The figure reportedly includes a lump sum of £295,000 which he would have earned by staying in his role until the end of his contract in February 2010.

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