Counterterrorism chief and assistant commissioner of Met Police Neil Basu (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
THE most senior Asian police officer in the UK is considering lodging an official complaint as he has dropped out of the running to become the head of the National Crime Agency, according to a report.
Neil Basu, the former head of counter-terrorism policing, has been told the process to find the chief for the crime agency would be restarted, and he could reapply, The Guardian reported.
Reports claimed that prime minister Boris Johnson wanted Lord Hogan-Howe, the controversial former Met chief from 2011 to 2017, to be appointed as NCA chief.
An expert panel assessed that Basu and Graeme Biggar, the NCA’s acting director-general, were sufficiently qualified to be appointed to the high-level role.
Last week, however, Matthew Rycroft, the permanent secretary at the Home Office, informed them that they would not be picked.
According to The Guardian, neither applicant has been given a reason, either verbally from Rycroft or in letters sent to both this week confirming the decision.
A source told the newspaper that the selection process was stopped because Downing Street intervened and favoured Bernard Hogan-Howe.
Basu did not apply for the Met commissionership after Cressida Dick’s resignation in February as government opposition was so clear.
The report added that senior policing leaders are aghast at the developments and claims of political interference, with one describing it as “outrageous”.
Andy George, president of the National Black Police Association criticised the blocking of Basu, saying his appointment would have been a “beacon of hope”.
Basu, Hogan-Howe, Biggar and two others were interviewed by an expert panel of five people.
Alongside Rycroft, it included MI5 director-general Ken McCallum and home office adviser Michael Fuller – the only black Briton ever to reach the rank of the chief constable.
The top job in the NCA is a senior civil service role equivalent to that of a permanent secretary. The Home Office confirmed that it will now be re-advertised.
The report revealed that both candidates had completed their “fireside” chats with the home secretary, Priti Patel – the final stage before an appointment is made.
Basu, an assistant commissioner at the Met, is seen by some as a highly effective senior officer. But he has irked the government by speaking out on matters including race. He favoured positive discrimination to boost ethnic minority officer numbers.
George said: “Neil Basu made the brave step of talking about positive discrimination to make policing more representative. As a result, he has been stopped from taking up two of the top two posts and that is disappointing.”
Employment barrister Mukhtiar Singh said senior government officials may have landed themselves in legal trouble: “If I were a government lawyer I would be deeply concerned.”
A Home Office spokesperson said that an open recruitment campaign is underway to make the best possible appointment for this vital role.
“This process will ensure that we get the best possible candidate as the new director-general to provide the leadership and experience to take this work forward,” the spokesperson told The Guardian.