26 September 2023

UNITED KINGDOM: PS may block Johnson’s NCA pick

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Any attempt by outgoing United Kingdom Prime Minister, Boris Johnson to install a close ally as head of the National Crime Agency (NCA) before he leaves office will not be accepted, according to Public Service sources.

Reports suggest Mr Johnson is keen to insert his friend, Lord Hogan-Howe, into one of the most prestigious positions in UK policing however, Public Service sources say that any move to manoeuvre the former Metropolitan Police Commissioner into the role would be blocked.

“Any candidate has first to appear before an independent panel before they make it on to the shortlist of candidates,” a source said.

The recruitment process for the head of the NCA was controversially reopened in May after Lord Hogan-Howe (pictured), Mr Johnson’s favoured pick, apparently failed to make it on to the shortlist.

Lord Hogan-Howe has broken normal police convention by overtly backing the Prime Minister, taking the unusual step of supporting Mr Johnson during the 2019 Conservative Party leadership contest.

A spokesperson at the Civil Service Commission said Lord Hogan-Howe would need to navigate the same process as his rival for the job, the NCA’s Acting Director General, Graeme Biggar.

“There is due process around making sure that candidates are treated fairly, and go through the same process assessed against the criteria,” the spokesperson said.

“He will have to be treated like all the other candidates and be assessed against the criteria, through to the appointed candidates list.”

While Home Secretary, Priti Patel has ultimate power over who gets the job, the spokesperson said she could appoint only from those names on the Commission’s shortlist.

The reopening of applications prompted anger, largely because Lord Hogan-Howe presided over Operation Midland, the Metropolitan Police’s mismanaged investigation into an alleged VIP paedophile ring.

Concerns have also been voiced that Mr Johnson, now effectively a caretaker Prime Minister in an interim Government, does not abuse his powers during his final weeks in office.

London, 18 July 2022

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