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by RAY FLEMING
l THE most accurate summary of the latest troubles surrounding Sir Ian Blair, the Commisioner of the Metropolitan Police, came yesterday from Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrats' home affairs spokesman, who said: “Controversy appears to attach itself to Sir Ian on an almost daily basis. These reports raise serious questions about his judgement and his leadership style.” The reports referred to by Mr Clegg were that Sir Ian had secretly recorded a telephone conversation held last September with Lord Goldsmith, the Attorney-General; ironically the subject of their conversation was phone-tapping. Sir Ian's apology to Lord Goldsmith yesterday was accepted and the matter is now said to be “closed”. But is it? There were also reports suggesting that “somebody out there is out to get London's modernising police chief and that somebody is almost certainly not doing this for good reasons.” Sir Ian also has his supporters. Mr Blair's “complete confidence” assurance can be ignored but the comment of Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London, was significant: “I want to give my full backing to Sir Ian, who is doing a first class job in delivering neighbourhood policing to every part of London, raising the visibility of the Met and driving down the fear of crime. Thanks to Sir Ian's leadership, in a few weeks' time we will have a local police team in every neighbourhood in London a year ahead of schedule.” It is not illegal to record telephone conversations provided that the recording is for personal use and is not divulged to a third party without the consent of the person being recorded. It is odd that the law does not require the consent of the second party before the recording begins. Sir Ian says he taped his conversation with the Attorney General because the subject was complex. However, it has also emerged that Sir Ian also recorded conversations with officials of the Independent Police Complaints Commission who were looking into the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes at Stockwell police station last summer. In many respects, Ian Blair seems the kind of modern policeman the Met needs. But his record of gaffes, for instead about the Soham murders, and the unresolved matter of his actions on the day of the Stockwell shooting, are worrying.