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Former Met Police commissioner on BHA’s wanted list

13 April 2015

A FORMER Metropolitan Police commissioner who resigned from office “out of a sense of duty and honour” in the wake of the News International phone-hacking scandal is on the BHA’s wanted list to become a director this summer.

Sir Paul Stephenson, 61, who was cleared by the Independent Police Complaints Commission of conduct that might have breached police disciplinary codes, is understood to be the BHA’s first choice to replace Ben Gunn as one of two independent regulatory directors and could be offered the position as early as this week.

Gunn, like Stephenson a career policeman,is due to step down in July, having been on the BHA board since its inception in July 2007, after previously acting as a director of the short-lived Horse racing Regulatory Authority.

Lancashire-born Stephenson followed his elder brother into the police force at the age of 21 and, 27 years later in 2002, was appointed the county’s chief constable. Less than three years later he was promoted to deputy commissioner of the Met Police and, having been knighted in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list in 2008, took over as acting commissioner in September that year after the resignation of Sir Ian Blair.

Stephenson was formally appointed to the commissioner’s role in January 2009. He resigned in July 2011, despite his stance being opposed by Home Secretary Theresa May and London mayor Boris Johnson, after public criticism over the Met’s hiring of former News of the World deputy editor Neil Wallis as a PR consultant, and Stephenson’s free use of a health spa that also employed Wallis, following recovery from serious surgery.

In subsequent evidence to the Leveson inquiry on the relationship between the police and the press, Stephenson said he was reluctant to accept the free treatment but felt under pressure to return to work after having had four months’ sick leave, and added: “I didn’t think I had any alternative other, out of a sense of duty and honour, to step down.”

At the time of Stephenson’s resignation,Sir Hugh Orde, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, described him as “one of the finest officers I have worked with [who has] made an outstanding contribution to national policing”.

Since retiring, Stephenson, who is understood to be a keen racing follower, spent two years as a non-executive director of Restore, a listed storage company founded by former Conservative party deputy chairman Lord Ashcroft, and continues to be a trustee of Crimestoppers, of which Lord Ashcroft is chairman.

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