Paddick joins mayoral race with calls for Blair to quit

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Brian Paddick, the former senior Metropolitan Police officer, joined calls for his former boss, Sir Ian Blair, to quit as the force's commissioner as he launched his campaign to become the Mayor of London.

Mr Paddick, who stood down as one of the Met's deputy assistant commissioners earlier this year, spoke out as he was confirmed as the Liberal Democrat candidate to challenge Ken Livingstone, the Labour Mayor.

He is the third high-profile candidate to join the race for the City Hall post, with Boris Johnson, the journalist and Henley MP, already confirmed as the Conservative contender.

Mr Paddick dropped his support yesterday for Sir Ian and declared that the commissioner's position was "increasingly untenable". He added: "If you look at ... the support he has given to controversial policies that only Labour have been proposing ... you don't need to be a rocket scientist to work out why Labour see him as an ally."

Mr Paddick was installed as the 16/1 outsider for the job by bookmakers. Before his resignation from the Met, Mr Paddick, 49, was Britain's highest-ranking openly gay police officer. The Oxford graduate, who was brought up in south London, was a sergeant on the front line in the Brixton riots of 1981 and returned to the area when he became the Met's commander in Lambeth in 2000.

He sparked controversy by ordering officers in Brixton not to arrest or charge people found in possession of cannabis some years before the drug was downgraded from class B to class C.

He declared: "I am the only serious alternative to Ken Livingstone ... Some might say I am not really a politician; well thank goodness for that. I have a hard-earned reputation for being open and honest, for telling the truth even when it is not what people want to hear. I am not going to throw that reputation away now...

"I'm not going to be like any other politician you've ever seen before – that's why I'm going to win."