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New chief appointed to head National Crime Agency

National Crime Agency sign (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)
National Crime Agency sign (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Graeme Biggar has been appointed as the new head of the National Crime Agency following Boris Johnson’s reported failure to shoehorn ex-Scotland Yard chief Lord Hogan-Howe into the role.

The choice of Mr Biggar, who has led the NCA on an interim basis since October 2021, was confirmed by Home Secretary Priti Patel, who said that he and his team had “an outstanding track record of delivery”.

However, the appointment process has been mired in controversy. Mr Johnson is widely thought to have wanted to install Lord Hogan-Howe, who was the Met Police commissioner when he was London mayor.

Boris Johnson with Lord  Bernard Hogan-Howe
Boris Johnson was reported to have wanted Lord Hogan-Howe (right) for the job (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The peer was reported to have pulled out of the running last month amid anger over the botched Operation Midland investigation into a supposed VIP paedophile ring when he was in charge at Scotland Yard.

Downing Street was previously reported to have ordered the appointment process to be re-opened in order to enable Lord Hogan-Howe to apply.

That led to another candidate, Neil Basu, the former Met assistant commissioner and head of UK counter terrorism policing, dropping out, angrily demanding an explanation as to why he had been overlooked.

It was reported in May that he and Mr Biggar had both been assessed as being sufficiently qualified for the role but they were told that neither of them would be getting the job.

Former assistant commissioner Neil Basu
Neil Basu dropped out of the running, demanding an explanation as to why he had been overlooked (Yui Mok/PA)

Announcing Mr Biggar’s appointment for a five-year term, Ms Patel said she was putting the rights skills and resources into the agency to tackle new and emerging threats.

“Going after the criminals who profit from human misery, abuse our children and citizens and show no regard for our borders and laws is what Graeme and I continue to drive,” she said.

“From dismantling people-smuggling networks through the biggest illegal migration law enforcement operation across Europe, to bringing the monsters who sexually abuse children in the UK and abroad to justice, Graeme and his remarkable NCA team have an outstanding track record of delivery.”

Mr Biggar has previously served as head of the NCA’s National Economic Crime Centre and as director for national security at the Home Office and helped to shape the response to the 2017 terrorist attacks, the Salisbury poisoning.

In a statement, he said: “The agency’s mission – to protect the public from serious and organised crime – has never been more important.

“Serious and organised crime is chronic, corrosive and complex. The people and groups behind it have global reach, are technically sophisticated and digitally enabled.

“In response, the agency must focus upstream, overseas and online – while continuing to work with our partners systematically to target criminals, bring them to justice and reduce the harm they cause.”