The four candidates* to be the next Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis are being interviewed by a Panel of members of the Metropolitan Police Authority tomorrow. This will be the second interview that the candidates have had – last week a Panel of Home Office mandarins led by the Permanent Secretary, Dame Helen Ghosh, put them through their paces.
The purpose of these first two interviews is to whittle the number of candidates down to, perhaps, two who will then be interviewed by that marriage-made-in-heaven, the Home Secretary Theresa May and Mayor Boris Johnson (the two are rumoured not to like each other) next week.
After that, the Home Secretary will formulate a recommendation to The Queen who will formally make the appointment.
So whose fault will it be if the wrong candidate is selected?
The answer is simple: Keith Vaz MP.
The astute reader of this blog (I know who you are) will already have realised that the Chair of the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee does not have a formal role in this convoluted appointment process. So how does he get the blame, I hear you ask.
Keith Vaz has scheduled a hearing of the Home Affairs Committee for tomorrow morning and has summoned before him, not only Deputy Mayor Kit Malthouse AM, Chair of the Metropolitan Police Authority, who would have been chairing the MPA interview panel, but also two of the Commissioner candidates (Tim Godwin and Sir Hugh Orde).
When asked whether these witnesses could be heard on Thursday morning, when the Home Affairs Committee is also holding a hearing, the answer from Keith Vaz was that such a change would not be possible.
The result: the start time of the interviews has been postponed; Kit Malthouse will arrive hot and sticky (do not dwell too long on this image) at the MPA offices having given his evidence and chair the interviews of the two candidates not required by Keith Vaz; and Tim Godwin and Hugh Orde will rush direct from their grilling by the Select Committee to their respective interrogations at the MPA (not necessarily the calm preparation time that people up for one of the most important jobs in the country would normally hope to have).
And, if that doesn’t potentially skew the outcome, the most damaging consequence of the Vaz intervention in the process, is that I will no longer be able to participate in the MPA interviews because of the changed timings.
So, if it all goes wrong, blame Keith Vaz.
* The four candidates are:
Tim Godwin, the current Acting Commissioner, substantive Deputy Commissioner and former Assistant Commissioner for Territorial Policing.
Bernard Hogan-Howe, the current Acting Deputy Commissioner, substantive HM Inspector of Constabulary and formerly Chief Constable of Merseyside and before that an Assistant Commissioner in the Met.
Steve House, currently Chief Constable of Strathclyde, putative Chief Constable of the proposed all-Scotland Police Service, and before that an Assistant Commissioner in the Met.
Sir Hugh Orde, currently President of the Association of Chief Police Officers, former Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, and before that a Deputy Assistant Commissioner in the met.