Four in running to be next Met Police commissioner

L-R: Tim Godwin, Bernard Hogan-Howe, Sir Hugh Orde, Stephen House
Image caption L-R: Tim Godwin, Bernard Hogan-Howe, Sir Hugh Orde and Stephen House are in the running

Four of the UK's top police officers are in the running to be the new Metropolitan Police commissioner.

It comes after Sir Paul Stephenson quit last month amid revelations about the Met's links with News International.

Strathclyde chief Stephen House, Acting Met Commissioner Tim Godwin, ex-Northern Ireland head Sir Hugh Orde and former Merseyside head Bernard Hogan-Howe are thought to have all applied.

The home secretary has said the new Met chief must be a "tough crimefighter".

Meanwhile, Sir Paul has been cleared of misconduct in his handling of the phone hacking inquiry by the the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

The police watchdog said the former Met Police chief had not committed any criminal acts.

The new Met Police commissioner will be appointed on the recommendation of the home secretary, who must take into account the views of the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, and the Metropolitan Police Authority.

BBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw said the early front runners had emerged as Mr House, who was asked to apply, and Mr Hogan-Howe, who was recently drafted in as the Met's Deputy Commissioner.

Our correspondent said Mr Godwin, the acting Met Police commissioner, may have been damaged by the way in which recent disturbances in London were handled.

Mr House, 54, was born in Glasgow and moved to London with his family in the 1960s. He was contacted by the Home Office and asked to apply for the job.

He spent six years in senior posts at the Metropolitan Police before becoming chief constable of Strathclyde in 2007, where he has won praise for tackling gangs.

Former Police Service of Northern Ireland chief Sir Hugh Orde is currently president of the Association of Chief Police Officers.

He had been a leading contender for the job before and has played a key role among colleagues, leading negotiations with government over cuts and reforms.

Foreign police chiefs

Sir Hugh would be a popular choice among police but it is thought he may have clashed once too often with the home secretary to get the job.

Mr Hogan-Howe was drafted into the Metropolitan Police last month as deputy commissioner after Sir Paul resigned.

Another possible candidate had been Andy Trotter, head of the British Transport Police.

Image caption US chief Bill Bratton was ruled out as a possible Met Police commissioner

Meanwhile, the BBC understands that potential applicant Sir Norman Bettison, chief constable of West Yorkshire Police, decided not to apply.

Home Secretary Theresa May publicly ruled out accepting applications from foreign police chiefs on Tuesday.

It followed speculation that former New York and Los Angeles police chief Bill Bratton, who has been taken on as an adviser by the government, could be in the running.

Mrs May said that as long as the commissioner was responsible for counter-terrorism, the job could go only to a British citizen.

The home secretary said: "I think it's absolutely important at the moment that we don't delay the appointment of a new Metropolitan Police commissioner.

"It's an Olympics year and the Met is facing challenges following the departure of Sir Paul Stephenson.

"It's also clear to me that as long as the Met retains its national policing duties, including counter-terrorism, the commissioner will have a unique policing role in relation to national security, and that is why the post has always been held by a British citizen.

"I absolutely believe that we will be able to find from amongst our ranks the sort of tough crimefighter equipped to lead the Metropolitan Police and drive down crime in our capital."

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