3 Oct 2008

London police chief resigns

6:16 am on 3 October 2008

Britain's most senior police officer has resigned following criticism of his leadership and his handling of major investigations, including terrorism cases.

Sir Ian Blair, is stepping down as commissioner of the London Metropolitan police, 16 months before his five-year contract was due to expire.

The Home Secretary says she has reluctantly accepted his resignation.

Sir Ian, 55, has had a stormy time since taking over the job in February 2005.

Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes, was killed by undercover police on the London Underground in July 2005, a day after failed suicide bombings on the network while the capital was on alert following suicide attacks two weeks earlier.

He was also accused of racial discrimination by Britain's highest-ranking Muslim police officer.

In addition, he does not have said the backing of London's new mayor Boris Johnson, who took office in May.

Sir Ian said on Thursday that he did not consider that he could continue in the job without the mayor's backing.