Lord Blair at the Leveson inquiry

Lord Blair: '"There is no restriction on people leaving to go to any part of public life'

Senior police officers should be required to wait two years after leaving their job before they can take up work in the media, a former Metropolitan police commissioner has proposed today.

Lord Blair, who led the Met police from 2005 to 2008, said the ministerial and civil service codes of conduct already had rules on working for the media and that the police code should do the same.

"There is no restriction on people leaving to go to any part of public life," he told the Leveson inquiry.

"I think we're talking here about senior staff who've had access to the most sensitive and detailed information. I certainly wouldn't want to see it being much more restrictive on the police than anybody else."

However, he suggested there should be an exception for police press and communications officers who had joined from the media, so that they could return to news organisations without having to wait two years.

Blair added: "I couldn't imagine how you could put a restriction on someone recruited from the Daily Mirror going back to the Sunday Times [after working for the police]. That is his or her profession."

Last year, it emerged that nearly a quarter of the Metropolitan police's 45 press staff had worked at News International at some point.

In written evidence to the inquiry, Blair said there was a significant problem of "senior officers" being "too close to journalists".

He said this was "not, I believe, for financial gain, but for the enhancement of their reputation and for the sheer enjoyment of being in a position to share and divulge confidences".

Blair added: "It is a siren song. I also believe that they based their behaviour on how they saw politicians behave, and that they lost sight of their professional obligations."

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