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Gordon Brown has told Sky News departed anti-terror chief Bob Quick offered him a personal apology after his carelessness jeopardised a major counter-terrorism operation. Skip related content
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Mr Quick earlier resigned from the force after his security blunder forced officers to exact a huge series of raids on a “revised timescale”.
The Prime Minister offered his support for the police’s swift undertaking raids, telling Sky News: “It is right we took the urgent action that we did yesterday.”
He confirmed the raids have targeted those behind “a very big terrorist plot”, which authorities “have been following it for some time”.
Mr Quick had been photographed on Wednesday morning carrying clearly visible secret papers relating to raids – codenamed Operation Pathway – as he arrived in Downing Street for a meeting with the Prime Minister and Home Secretary Jacqui Smith.
Responding to news of his resignation, Ms Smith today offered “sincere appreciation for all the outstanding work he has done in this role, which has helped keep this country safe”.
London Mayor Boris Johnson said he had accepted Mr Quick’s decision to leave his post with “great reluctance and sadness”.
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He confirmed Metropolitan Assistant Commissioner John Yates has been appointed as his replacement.
The statement later released by Mr Quick read: “Last night I contacted the police authority to inform them of my intention to offer my resignation.
“I have offered my resignation in the knowledge my action could have compromised a major counter-terrorism operation.
“I deeply regret the disruption caused to colleagues undertaking the operation and remain grateful for the way in which they adapted quickly and professionally to a revised timescale.”
Hundreds of officers carried out raids ahead of schedule on 10 properties in the North-West of England and arrested 12 men – including 10 Pakistani nationals on student visas and one Briton.
Operations in Liverpool and Manchester remain on-going.
Former Metropolitan Police Commander Bob Milton said at the centre of the blunder was a security risk to the public.
He told Sky News: “The rushed operation, compromised by Bob Quick’s action … could potentially cause high risk to the public.
“It was an appalling blunder. I just wonder what the impact would have been on the police force in terms of those doing the investigation for this counter terror operation.”
Shadow home secretary Chris Grayling MP said for Mr Quick to fall on his sword “was the right thing to do”.
He told Sky News: “The buck had to stop somewhere. This was a serious breach.”
Fearing the suspects would be tipped off about the plan, police swooped at about 5.30pm on Wednesday on addresses in Cheetham Hill, Manchester, Liverpool – including John Moores University – and Clitheroe in Lancashire.
A Homebase store was also raided a day before its opening by more than 100 officers and two staff members are believed to have been arrested.
Yesterday, the Home Secretary said the UK remained under “severe” threat from terrorists and praised police for a “successful operation”.
But Ms Smith’s refusal to be drawn about Mr Quick’s future signalled his fate.
Sky News political correspondent Joey Jones said his position became untenable by Wednesday evening, when it was obvious he lacked “political support”.
Mr Quick’s decision to quit is likely to be welcomed by the Conservatives within Parliament who were angered by his role in the arrest of shadow immigration minister Damian Green as part of a Whitehall leak inquiry.
He was also forced to apologise last December for an outburst in which he accused senior Tories of leaking a story about his wife’s business interests.
There were more unwanted newspaper headlines after it emerged his wife Judith was running a luxury car hire firm from their home and details of their address were published on a website.
Yet he leaves his post with the praise of his superiors.
Met Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson paid tribute to Mr Quick as “a tremendous police officer who served with dedication and professionalism throughout his career”.
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