Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Brian Paddick in the Line of Fire

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 12th May, 2008

Now the London elections are safely out of the way, I’ve at last had time to read Brian Paddick’s autobiography, Line of Fire. This was published during the late stages of the London Mayoral campaign, I suspect more with an eye to boosting sales than to boosting his electoral chances. Disappointingly for politicos, there is almost no political content to the book (although Brian did a PPE degree at Queen’s College, Oxford, on sabbatical from the Met). Apart from a passing reference to the late Harriet Smith, the Liberal Democrats don’t get a look-in until right at the end of he book — and then only cursorily, with no real explanation as to why he decided to run in a race which nobody seriously thought he could win.

His account of life inside the Metropolitan Police does contain revealing material, though the gist of his falling out with Sir Ian Blair over the Jean Charles de Menezes affair was already widely known. ‘Britain’s most controversial policeman’ has also outed himself sexually repeatedly, so there are few surprises about his private life, other than the rather touching portrait of his (now divorced wife) Mary as a real brick. Given his lifestyle, however, it did come as something of a revelation to learn of Brian’s Masonic and Baptist affiliations.

In his book, he gets as excited as any teenager when finding himself surrounded (thanks to David Funish) by Elton John, George Michael, Lulu, Sharon Osbourne et al. In fact, there is something Peter-Panish about him, despite his intelligence and the important policing roles he had over 20 years. I can’t think of many other men who have just turned 50 who list their hobbies as ‘the gym’ and ‘clubbing’. There’s a well-known saying that ‘Life Begins at Forty’, but maybe in Brian’s case, it will be ‘Life Begins at Fifty’: a political campaign under his belt, a civil partnership on the way, and maybe even a media career. Having successfully sued the Mail newspapers in the past, he’s now getting money out of them by writing for them instead — with a piece in yesterday’s Mail on Sunday that was infinitely more revealing and amusing than his (partly ghost-written) book, I have to say.


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