Met commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe ‘offers to resign’
Riddle over Britain’s top police officer as Home Office refuses to comment on claim
We are not commenting on that. We cannot comment on that. Sorry
Home Office spokeswoman
Mystery today surrounds the future of Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe as commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service.
A well-connected source told Exaro that Hogan-Howe had tendered his resignation to the home secretary, Theresa May, but that she had refused to accept it.
The riddle deepened when the Home Office refused to comment on whether Hogan-Howe had offered to resign. If the claim were untrue, a spokesman could be expected simply to deny it.
But a spokeswoman for the department would only say: “Our line is, no comment.”
After Guido Fawkes, a political blog, suggested that the Home Office denied that Hogan-Howe had tendered his resignation and would have no reason to do so, we asked again whether the Met commissioner had offered to resign.
A second spokeswoman told Exaro: “We are not commenting on that. There is nothing else to say.”
Pressed again, she said: “We are not commenting on that. We cannot comment on that. Sorry.”
A Met spokesman, however, denied that the commissioner had tendered his resignation, saying: “Definitely not, nor has he done so in any of the tenure that he has been with the Met.”
Hogan-Howe was appointed as Britain’s most senior police officer in September 2011 following the fallout from the phone-hacking scandal at the News of the World.
He first joined the Met as assistant commissioner 10 years earlier, but left to become chief constable of Merseyside Police in 2004 and went on to work for HM Inspectorate of Constabulary.
The 56-year-old, Oxford-educated officer was seen as a safe pair of hands and chosen for a no-nonsense attitude to crime-fighting.
He pledged to clean up Scotland Yard’s reputation and relentlessly pursue criminals with his strategy of “total policing”.
In 2008, he married Marion White, an assistant to the Crown equerry, who is responsible for the royal family’s horses, carriages and cars at Buckingham Palace.
Hogan-Howe has come under enormous pressure of late, as the Met attempts to restore relations with large sections of London’s population in the wake of the shooting of Mark Duggan in 2011 in Tottenham, in the north of the capital. An inquest jury returned a verdict on Wednesday that police had lawfully killed Duggan.
Following the verdict, Hogan-Howe said: “We are all conscious that some people are very angry in that area and we have to work hard to make sure that we provide a good police service for them too.”
Today saw a Met constable admit misconduct in public office after falsely claiming to have witnessed a row between the then chief whip, Andrew Mitchell, and police. Claims about the row forced Mitchell to resign his cabinet job.
Hogan-Howe apologised to Mitchell, saying in a statement today: “I would also like to apologise to Mr Mitchell that an MPS [Metropolitan Police Service] officer clearly lied about seeing him behaving in a certain manner.”
“I will be writing to him offering to meet and apologise in person.
“I expect my officers to serve the public without fear or favour, where officers break the law they must expect to be held to account and answer for what they have done.”
And Hogan-Howe was forced to admit to MPs on the House of Commons public administration committee on Wednesday that a whistleblower’s claim that the Met had fiddled crime figures was at least partly true.
However, none of these episodes is behind his offer to resign. But Exaro is currently unable to say what is behind it.
Update 6.30pm, 10 January 2014: Within an hour of our publishing this story, a Met spokesman telephoned Exaro to reiterate its denial.
A few minutes later, a spokesman for the Home Office called Exaro to change its stance. The spokesman said: “We are denying that Hogan-Howe offered to resign.”
He continued: “We were not commenting because we did not want, sort of, as it were, to give it the oxygen of publicity.”
“The fact is that we are denying, on the record, that he offered to resign.”
Shortly after that, the Met spokesman called again to check that the Home Office had contacted us.
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