Serious questions need to be asked of North Yorkshire Police over Greenpeace protests at the PM’s home - GP Taylor

I may be the only police officer to have ever lost a Prime Minister. It happened in Helmsley market place when John Major paid a visit to a thousand, pre-election, blue-rinse supporters. I was under orders to open the car door, give a salute and follow him around. The car stopped. He got out with his protection officer and the PM promptly disappeared into the adoring mob.

In my earpiece, all I could hear was my boss screaming that I had lost the PM. The London detective turned to me and said, “Don’t worry son, we’ll get him on the other side.”

Sure enough, John Major appeared out of the crowd a few minutes later with a splodge of red lipstick on his cheek, got in his car and drove off. Job done… with a letter of thanks from Downing Street.

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Throughout my service in North Yorkshire Police, the force prided itself in giving first rate protection to politicians who lived in the county. Therefore, I cannot understand the travesty of what happened at the house of Rishi Sunak and the serious implications of Greenpeace being allowed on to the property.

Greenpeace activists on the roof of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's house in Richmond. PIC: Danny Lawson/PA WireGreenpeace activists on the roof of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's house in Richmond. PIC: Danny Lawson/PA Wire
Greenpeace activists on the roof of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's house in Richmond. PIC: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

I know the Sunak house well as it was on the edge of my very first beat. It is a property within close reach of a well-staffed police station and is easily guarded.

Back in the day of sensible policing, before the age of woke and rainbow painted police cars, it would have been under 24 hour protection. The seaside holiday home of a former Northern Ireland Secretary was always guarded. He even provided officers with home cooked cakes and tea, served by his wife. Even when he was away, there was always a copper nearby.

Last week’s serious breach of security must be a wakeup call for North Yorkshire Police. They cannot blame the embarrassing event on the Home Office or the Met.

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Sunak is a resident politician whose property should be protected from not just eco zealots looking for internet click-bait, but also from serious terrorists who will now be thinking they could easily get at him.

We must never forget that the Brighton bomb that nearly killed Thatcher was planted weeks before the Tory conference.

Surely, now is the time for the Chief Constable to resign. It was in March this year, that His Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary Roy Wilsher said: “I have concerns about the performance of North Yorkshire Police in keeping people safe and reducing crime. In particular, I have serious concerns about its strategic planning and organisational management.”

Drunken events in a brewery come to mind.

The head of North Yorkshire Police, Lisa Winward, should have gone then and perhaps this mess-up might never have happened. Next time, it might not be Greenpeace on the roof.

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If reports are to be believed it took two hours for the police to arrive. That is quite quick considering I am still waiting for an officer to come and see me in respect of an incident last December.

I am not a fan of Sunak, but any politician deserves better treatment than this. Two hours is totally unacceptable, police officers should be sacked if they are found to be responsible for the mishandling of the incident. Politicians have been murdered and the police must do everything in their power to protect them.

I was once tasked with hiding in a cupboard-like room in the offices of Sir Leon Brittan when a suspicious Irish man made an appointment to see him. My job was to jump out and arrest the suspect if he launched an attack.

Thankfully the man was genuine and I don’t think Sir Leon ever knew where I was hiding.

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That was the lengths NYP took to protect politicians. I have to ask; would they do the same today? Obviously not.

The Sunak incident has turned North Yorkshire Police into a national joke. It has also cast a disturbing shadow over British politics. Eco zealots are going to further and further extremes to see which group can outdo each other and get bigger headlines. This must be stopped.

The only way would be for the government to hold a national referendum on net zero to gauge the feeling of the public regarding climate change, LTN’s, ULEZ and banning petrol cars.

None of these have ever been put to a national vote. Such a referendum would quite quickly show organisations like Greenpeace and Just Stop Oil that the majority of British people do not share their beliefs or their tactics. Perhaps then, they would rethink their media stunts.

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A referendum would make it clear what the public wanted from politicians.

The only party pressing for this is The Workers Party GB. So, if Rishi Sunak is serious about climate change, a referendum on net zero would be a good thing and perhaps then, it might stop people climbing on his roof, which North Yorkshire Police failed to do.

GP Taylor is a writer and broadcaster who lives in Yorkshire.