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13/03/06
Met Chief’s Future Bleak Over Phone-Tapping Row.  Image: Harper Smith.Met Chief’s Future Bleak Over Phone-Tapping Row
- Calls for resignation after Sir Ian Blair admits that he recorded conversations with public figures

THE FUTURE of Metropolitan Police chief Sir Ian Blair is in doubt today after it emerged he secretly recorded his phone conversations with leading public figures.

Blair, currently on a skiing holiday, has admitted taping conversations with the government’s leading legal official, Attorney General Lord Goldsmith, and senior officials of the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

There is some doubt as to whether such activity is against the law, but even if it is technically legal, the fact the Commissioner of London’s police force is engaged in such practises casts a huge shadow over his judgement.

“I think [Blair] has got to a stage where he must consider his own position,” said Richard Barnes, of the Metropolitan Police Authority. “The reputation of the Metropolitan Police really must be paramount and that is what we must protect.”

Shami Chakrabarti, of civil rights group Liberty said: “This is covert surveillance. It is very hard for any of us to have trust in him. I think his behaviour appears to be unconstitutional, unethical, quite possibly unlawful.”

Blair’s position is further compromised by his political isolation. Barnes is a Conservative member of the MPA and the right in general has long been anti-Blair, largely for what they see as his adoption of the ‘political correctness’ agenda. The left, meanwhile, has been gunning for Blair over his handling of the killing of innocent terrorist-suspect Jean Charles de Menezes.

Previously, Blair has rested on the support of the government. By taping the phone-calls of one of the government’s most senior officials, it seems likely he may lose that remaining line of support.



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