London police chief 'offered to quit' over royal rioting

12th December 2010, Comments 0 comments

Britain's top policeman offered to quit after a mob of students protesting against a rise in tuition fees attacked a car carrying Prince Charles and his wife Camilla last week, a report said Sunday.

Thursday's attack took place during the most violent protests yet against plans by Prime Minister David Cameron's coalition to triple university fees.

The royal couple was unharmed but it was highly embarrassing for police, particularly ahead of the wedding of Charles' son Prince William next year.

Paul Stephenson, the head of London's Metropolitan police, called Charles the following morning to apologise personally for the security lapse and offered to quit, the Sunday Times newspaper reported.

"Sir Paul made it clear that if they [the palace] thought he should resign, he would do so. He did not expect the offer to be accepted but he felt he ought to make it," the paper quoted an informed source as saying.

An unnamed colleague added separately: "Sir Paul is an honourable man and thought it right to consider his position."

A spokesman for the Met police confirmed to the newspaper that Stephenson had apologised personally to the heir to the throne but said he would not discuss the content of their private conversations.

In the wake of the attack, Stephenson defended the police and said the couple's route through central London to a theatre had been thoroughly surveyed minutes before the attack.

He also said armed royal protection officers had shown "very real restraint" in not shooting at the protesters who swarmed the Rolls Royce shouting 'Off with their heads'.

Prime Minister David Cameron said those responsible must be punished.

A spokesman for the royal couple said at the time they were "grateful" for the police's actions and "totally understand the difficulties which the police face."

© 2010 AFP

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