Labour outrage as Boris quits MPA

Boris Johnson standing down as MPA chairman
Boris Johnson standing down as MPA chairman

By Alex Stevenson

London mayor Boris Johnson has stood down as head of the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA), but insisted crime remains his "top priority".

He will be replaced by MPA vice-chairman Kit Malthouse in a move which critics will describe as a U-turn by the mayor. Reshard Auladin is the new vice-chairman of the MPA.

Taking control of the Met was one of Mr Johnson's key election pledges but led to criticism from police chiefs, especially former Met commissioner Sir Ian Blair, who said political interference risked compromising the operational independence of the police.

Labour campaigners in London are outraged by the announcement. They point to Mr Johnson's announcement on October 2nd 2008, in which the mayor said chairing the MPA had been "one of my key manifesto commitments".

But in a statement City Hall said Mr Johnson would be spending more, not less, time on police issues. He will have fortnightly meetings with Mr Malthouse and his staff and embark "on a systematic programme of visits to crime hotspots in the capital".

"Two years into my job as mayor, I am increasingly confident that I have the right structures and policies in place and the best people with the vision and drive to truly make London the best big city in the world," Mr Johnson, who was elected mayor in May 2008, said.

"To enable us to crack crime, give our young people the opportunities they deserve, clean up the environment and improve quality of life in our capital, we need a relentless, single-minded focus to drive home our advantage."

The mayor's argument that he does not have enough time to do the MPA work met with criticism from Labour, which said he had been elected on this basis and should prioritise it over his other commitments.

"This is another key election promise broken. Boris said the mayor should be directly accountable for crime but, just as he plans to slash police numbers and funding, he cuts and runs," Joanne McCartney, Labour's policing spokesperson on the Assembly, said.

"If he's too busy maybe he should spend more time on London and less earning £250,000 a year from the Telegraph."

The mayor's office insists his resignation does not mean he is abandoning his election pledge on policing as he is directly accountable for the Met's actions.

Mr Johnson has decided to "sharpen his team's energies" on his other priorities, including transport, housing, economy, environment, sport and serious youth violence, approved budgets and reforming City Hall.


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