Gay former Met police commander Brian Paddick to become Lib Dem peer

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Brian Paddick, formerly the most senior openly gay police officer in Britain and the Liberal Democrat candidate for the London mayoral election in 2008 and 2012, has been made a peer in the House of Lords.

Mr Paddick, 55, was deputy assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police until 2007, and as such was the most senior openly gay police officer in British history.

An alleged victim of voicemail hacking, he became an outspoken critic of the way that his former force investigated the scandal at the now defunct News of the World.

Mr Paddick played a key role in urging the Liberal Democrats to adopt equal marriage as party policy. He was recently praised by Nick Clegg for his efforts as the Lib Dem leader and Deputy Prime Minister attended a rally by equal marriage supporters outside Parliament. 

Ahead of last month’s signing into law of same-sex marriage for England and Wales, Liberal Democrat International Development Minister Lynne Featherstone – who previously served as equalities minister – also cited Mr Paddick’s contributions.

In 2010, at the Lib Dem conference, he criticised gay rights charity Stonewall for failing to support equal marriage in a speech carried live on BBC Parliament.

Mr Paddick, along with other senior Lib Dems, criticised the charity’s chief executive, Ben Summerskill, for suggesting that the party’s policy to extend civil partnerships to heterosexuals would cost £5bn over the course of ten years.

The figure had been calculated by a former civil servant for Stonewall and at the time was widely disputed by the Liberal Democrats, the Treasury, and the Government Equalities Office.

Stonewall subsequently announced its support for equal marriage in October 2010. 

Having served more than three decades for the Metropolitan Police, Mr Paddick ran against both Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstone in 2008 and 2012 for the London mayoralty, coming third both times.

He took part in a PinkNews mayoral question and answer session in 2012, where he spoke of the importance of achieving marriage equality in the UK and mentioned how he had undertaken a same-sex marriage abroad.

“I got married in Oslo. The Norwegians said ‘if we are to have equal rights for gays and lesbians, why do we have civil partnerships for one group and marriage for another’. Now everyone in Norway gets married. It’s as simple as that. Equal means equal.” Mr Paddick said.

He also recorded a video for the Out4Marriage campaign in May 2012.

Famous for a “softly softly” approach to policing in Brixton, he pursued prosecutions for use of other illegal drugs but not cannabis. It was a policy which earned him the nickname “cannabis cop”.

He was the official police spokesman in the aftermath of the 7 July bombings in 2005, but left in 2008, over the shooting of innocent Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes at Stockwell Tube station.

Mr Paddick subsequently gave evidence at the de Menezes inquest on behalf of the dead man’s family.

After his defeat in the 2008 mayoral race, he took a break from politics and appeared on the popular ITV reality television programme “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here”.

On 2 September 2011 he was selected as the Liberal Democrat London mayoral candidate for the second time.

On election day itself, Mr Paddick won 91,774 or 4.16% of the first preference votes, behind eventual winner Boris Johnson for the Conservatives, former mayor Ken Livingstone for Labour, and Greens candidate Jenny Jones.

Meanwhile London Assembly Member Jenny Jones has been appointed as a working peer in the Lords.

She also took part in a PinkNews mayoral question and answer session in 2010.