Friday, 16 November, 1888
London, Thursday Morning.
[SPECIAL FOR THE ADVERTISER.]
The resignation of Sir Charles Warren has been the sensation of the early part of the week, but, like all other sensations, it is not likely to survive long. It is quite plain that the relations between the Home Secretary and the Chief Commissioner have for a long time been strained, and the relations between Scotland Yard and the Home Office anything but cordial. Sir Charles Warren, it now appears, had tendered his resignation some time since, but Mr Matthews did not accept it; the reason, I suppose, being that it would lead to an uncomfortable debate in the House, but there is no doubt that the Chief Commissioner put himself technically in the wrong in the course he adopted in this case, and so gave Mr Matthews the very opportunity he was looking for.
The facts are simply these. There is an old rule of the Home Office that no official must communicate anything to the Press without the approval of the Home Secretary, and Sir Charles, either in ignorance or defiance of this rule, published his now famous article in “Murray’s Magazine.” Mr Matthews, instead of dealing with the matter in a courteous and moderate spirit, as might be expected with an official of the importance of the Chief Commissioner, instructed one of the clerks in the department to send him a curt letter, calling his attention to the regulations. Sir Charles, as I think, unwisely replied by a letter of defiance to Mr Matthews, denying his authority and at the same time tendering his resignation, as it was a perfectly untenable position for the Head of the Police Department to proclaim himself independent of the Cabinet Minister in whose department of the Government the maintenance of the public peace resides. Mr Matthews saw his chance of getting rid of his troublesome subordinate, and at once accepted his resignation.
But Sir Charles carries away all the honours – while his friends cannot deny that he made a grand tactical blunder in claiming a position practically independent of the Cabinet and of Parliament itself, they must regard him as the victim of the pure hostility of Mr Matthews.
No successor has at the time I write been designated for Sir Charles. It is understood that the Government favour the appointment of a civilian. The names of several gentlemen have been spoken of – some of very high position – but it seems not unlikely that the choice will fall on the chief constable or chief of police of one of the great provincial towns. The name of Mr Howard Vincent has been spoken of, but I don’t think there is the least chance of his being selected. Lord Charles Beresford has been also mentioned, but I have little idea of his appointment.