London ready for gay mayor says Paddick

A former senior police officer who wants to be Mayor of London has said that he does not think his sexuality will be an issue with the voters.

Brian Paddick was the UK’s most senior out gay policeman until his retirement as Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police in May this year.

He is one of three candidates for the Liberal Democrat nomination for Mayor of London. He said today that he did not regard being an openly gay man as an electoral disadvantage with Londoners.

“I think the majority are quite relaxed about an individual’s sexuality,” he told the Evening Standard.

“Clearly there are a lot of people who for moral reasons or some other reason find homosexuality difficult to deal with.

“But from my experience if you are good at your job and they trust you, sexuality becomes a non-issue.

“If you are useless and cannot be trusted it becomes an issue. I will be completely open about who I am. If we have to go over the past, we go over the past.”

Mr Paddick, 49, took part in this year’s Pride London celebrations and has been mulling a career in politics for some time. The next election for Mayor of London will be held in May 2008.

He admitted to the Standard that he had a meeting with the Conservative party about being their candidate for Mayor of London before deciding to seek the Lib Dem nomination.

Mr Paddick came to public prominence as borough commander of Lambeth, when his policy of targeting resources at class A drug dealers and taking a more relaxed approach to cannabis use caused right-wing outrage.

The policy was popular with locals, and his direct style of policing helped to foster a trust and respect with many who viewed the police with suspicion.

In his interview with the Evening Standard he criticised the decision of Prime Minister Gordon Brown to raise the classification of cannabis to a Class B substance, but said he thinks the drug is harmful.

“I think illegal drugs do a lot of harm and people shouldn’t take illegal drugs,” he said.

“The fact is millions of Londoners take drugs, whether they smoke cannabis to unwind in the evening or whether they take ecstasy.”

Mr Paddick called for a public enquiry into the terrorist attacks on London on July 7th 2005, something the government insists is unnecessary.

Liberal Democrat members in London will vote on the candidates next month, with the successful Mayoral candidate being announced in early November.

There are three candidates on the shortlist. Chamali Fernando, barrister from Finchley, is running for the party’s nomination against Fiyaz Mughal, a Haringey councillor, and Mr Paddick.