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Neil Basu has said he will demand an explanation from the government as to why he was overlooked to be the next head of the National Crime Agency (NCA).

The Met’s deputy commissioner, 53, said he would not be reapplying to be chief executive after the nomination process reopens.

Basu, the former head of Britain’s counter-terrorism police, told The Sunday Times: “I am disappointed with how the process ended and I will not be applying again. I will ask for an explanation from the Ministry of the Interior.

The Guardian reported on Thursday that a panel of experts had assessed Basu, the front-runner for the job, and Graeme Biggar, the NCA’s acting chief executive, to be sufficiently qualified to be appointed to the post.

Both were told by Matthew Rycroft, the Home Office’s permanent secretary, that they would not be chosen. Instead, a candidate’s search process would be restarted and they could reapply.

It seems that neither candidate received a reason.

A Whitehall source has confirmed claims that the selection process was halted because Downing Street intervened and favored Bernard Hogan-Howe, the former Met Commissioner and a staunch Boris Johnson supporter, for the role of the NEC.

Basu’s request for an explanation came as Hogan-Howe, 64, released a statement defending his tenure as Met commissioner from 2011 to 2017.

He told the Sunday Times: “I took over as head of the Met at a time of turmoil for the organization following the London riots and a high profile public inquiry and criminal investigation into phone hacking. I am proud of this what I accomplished in the position.

“Under my tenure, leading an organization of 50,000 people, the 2012 Olympics were held safely and crime in London fell nearly 20% in 2016, with the Met investigating 1 million crimes per year.”

Hogan-Howe has been widely condemned for the disastrous investigation into an alleged establishment pedophile ring launched on the word of Carl Beech, who was later jailed in 2019 for perverting the course of justice.

Earlier this week the widow of the late former Home Secretary Leon Brittan, the family of the late Lord Bramall and former Tory MP Harvey Proctor demanded that the Prime Minister reconsider whether Hogan-Howe was fit to be the head of the NCA after presiding over Operation Midland.

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The former Met commander told The Sunday Times: “Operation Midland had some significant setbacks, for which I personally apologize to all who have been hit so hard. Our inability to see through the deception of alleged victim Carl Beech has caused deep hurt and pain.

“But it was my own concerns that prompted an internal review of this investigation, and it was I who took the decision to appoint Sir Richard Henriques QC to get to the facts of the case.

“Despite his criticism of Midland, he found no systemic failure of the Metropolitan Police in the investigation of historic sex crimes.”

The Home Office said: ‘A fair and open recruitment campaign is underway to make the best possible appointment for this vital role.’

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