Just because he pissed off kittens…
Home Secretary Theresa May vowed to block David Cameron’s choice of US ‘Supercop’ Bill Bratton as the next Metropolitan Police Commissioner because she despises his ‘macho’ personality.
And Mr Bratton, who this month starts his ‘consolation prize’ role as Mr Cameron’s top adviser on combating gangs, told friends he considers Mrs May ‘unqualified’ as she has ‘no background’ in law-and-order policy.
And their relationship soured badly after they disagreed during a dinner-party conversation on the future of policing, sources have revealed.
‘They loathe each other. I imagine she told the Prime Minister, “Him or me,”’ said a senior British official who witnessed their rift. ‘It is fairly clear that they couldn’t work together, as the Home Secretary and Met Com¬missioner must.’
Mr Bratton, 63, has been police chief in Boston, New York and Los Angeles and won acclaim for his zero-tolerance policy to beating crime. Last month it emerged that Mr Cameron wanted him to replace Sir Paul Stephenson, who quit as Met chief in the phone-hacking scandal.
Mrs May then hit out, saying the force had ‘always been led by a British citizen’ and the right leader could still be found among UK officers. Her words are said to have undermined her standing with Mr Cameron’s inner circle.
The animosity was born last Nov¬ember, after Mrs May watched Mr Bratton speak at an event organised by the think-tank Policy Exchange.
His speech might have been expected to appeal strongly to a Home Secretary seeking to reform policing in the face of diminishing resources.
He said that ‘with the right leadership’, it was possible ‘to create transformational change in record time despite tight budgets, limited resources, motivational hurdles and sometimes powerful opposition’.
Mr Bratton and Mrs May then attended a dinner at the Cinnamon Club in Westminster. Two of those present, including the senior British official, revealed what transpired.
‘As they spoke, you could see her face darkening,’ said the official. ‘They were discussing the proposal to create a National Crime Agency and replace local police authorities with elected commissioners.
‘Bratton said he thought the agency was a pretty good idea – after all, it seems to work with the FBI in America. But he said the elected commissioners plan was much less sensible. He kept asking her, “Why would you want to do that?” and didn’t seem impressed by her explanation.’
Mr Bratton, the official added, expresses himself forcefully, making clear his views were derived from long experience. ‘You could call that arrogant,’ he said. ‘She did not like what she saw as his macho style, nor being told that what she was doing was potty. She really didn’t like him. You could tell from her body language.’
Matters did not improve when Mrs May met Mr Bratton again on a visit to America. Afterwards, the second source said, Mr Bratton told associates he thought Mrs May’s lack of experience made her a poor choice as Home Secretary.
Last night Mr Bratton’s spokesman said the police chief ‘did not wish to discuss his dealings with Mrs May through the media’. In an interview yesterday, he appeared to regret being excluded as Commissioner, saying he was an Anglophile with longstanding ties to UK police forces.
‘What is going on in Britain is going to require a lot of collaboration,’ he said, ‘and one of those collaborations might be to bring in the Bill Brattons in the world to hear what they have to say.
‘I am just pleased to have the opportunity to throw my two cents in,’ he added. A Home Office spokeswoman said she could not comment on Mrs May’s private conversations.