Met Police anti-terror law lobbying was 'clumsy'

Sir Paul Stephenson, Metropolitan Police commissioner
Image caption Sir Paul Stephenson said the Met Police allowed itself to look 'party political' on anti-terror legislation

Britain's most senior police officer has said the Metropolitan Police were "clumsy" while lobbying the previous government on anti-terror legislation.

Sir Paul Stephenson, the Met Commissioner, also said his force allowed itself "to potentially look party political".

He said decisions on the legislation were a "matter for Parliament".

The commissioner made the comments to the all-party Home Affairs Select Committee on Tuesday.

Sir Paul was being questioned by Labour MP David Winnick about criticism of the Met in 2005 when Parliament was voting for 90 days' detention without charge for suspected terrorists.

'Not flippant'

The former Met Commissioner Sir Ian Blair was reported as backing the bill, saying that more time to question suspects would be helpful to police.

Mr Winnick asked Sir Paul why there was now no reaction by the Met when the new Coalition government was proposing to reduce the detention time to 14 days.

Sir Paul, who was deputy commissioner in 2005, said: "Not being flippant, but that question ought to be asked of whoever did the lobbying in 2005.

"It was perhaps more than a little clumsy.

"We allowed ourselves to potentially look party political.

"I am absolutely clear of one thing. The public will forgive the police on many things but never forgive them for being party political."

He added: "It is a matter for Parliament to decide on these matters."

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