Robert Quick

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Robert Quick was Britain's most senior counter-terrorist police officer from March 2008 to April 2009. In 2008, he was a prominent supporter of extending pre-charge detention, and became embroiled in political controversy after ordering the arrest of Conservative MP Damian Green.


Quick is a Graduate of Exeter University with a Masters Degree in Business Administration, and he has a Diploma in Applied Criminology from Cambridge University.[1]


Quick's Metropolitan Police biography describes his career as follows:

Robert joined the Metropolitan Police Service in 1978 where he served in Lambeth. In 1982 he was selected for training as a Detective and posted to Brixton. In the following years he was appointed to a number of leadership roles in both CID and Uniform Operations in many South London Divisions. He also served as a detective on a number of Metropolitan Police Service Central and Area Squads. He also served on the South East London Crime Command investigating murders and serious violent crime. In 2000 he was appointed Detective Chief Superintendent in charge of the MET's Anti Corruption Command and in 2001 he attended the Strategic Command Course before promotion to Commander in November 2001. In 2002, as Commander in Territorial Policing (Crime), he led the Metropolitan Police Operation 'Safer Streets' Campaign against street robbery and armed crime in London. In 2003 he transferred on promotion to Surrey Police as Deputy Chief Constable and in November 2004 he was appointed Chief Constable of Surrey.[2]

Between 2005 and 2008 Robert was the Chair of the ACPO Workforce Development business area.[3]

Head of Counter-terrorism

On March 1 2008, Quick was appointed Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner 'Specialist Operations' (ACSO) with responsibility for Counter Terrorism, Security & Protection, nationally as well as in London. He also became chair of the ACPO Terrorism & Allied Matters (ACPO - TAM) Business Area with responsibility for co-ordinating national counter terrorism and security policy and operational delivery.[4]

Pre-charge detention debate

0n 28 March 2008, Quick wrote to Home Secretary Jacqui Smith supporting the case for an extension of pre-charge detention for terrorist suspects:

a pragmatic inference can confidently be drawn from statistical and empirical evidence arising from recent investigations that circumstances could arise in the future which render existing pre-charge detention limits inadequate to ensure a full and expeditious investigation of detained persons[5]

A few days later, Smith cited this letter in a commons debate on extending pre-charge detention to 42 days. She was challenged by Shadow Attorney General Dominic Grieve, who claimed other members of the ACPO TAM committee opposed the extension.[6]

In May 2008, the Home Office asked Quick to brief MPs on the case for 42 days. This move was criticised by Shadow Home Secretary David Davis, who said:

"I spoke to DAC Quick (yesterday) morning and established that there was a range of views across chief constables, and no single police view.
"It is entirely inappropriate that a serving officer should be asked to make the Government's case - particularly when it doesn't reflect the common view of chief constables."[7]

In June 2008, Quick wrote a joint letter to The Times with ACPO president Ken Jones, denying the paper's suggestion that police officers thought 42-day detention was unworkable.[8]

Damian Green Affair

In 2008, the Cabinet Office requested the assistance of the Metropolitan Police in investigating a series of leaks. In a letter to Quick, the Director of Security and Intelligence at the Cabinet Office wrote:

We are in no doubt there has been considerable damage to national security already as a result of some of these leaks and we are concerned that the potential for future damage is significant.

The letter continued:

You will not be surprised to hear that we are also concerned that there must be risk to information about sensitive operations which, if leaked, could give rise to grave damage.[9]

Quick took the decision to arrest Conservative MP Damian Green as part of the subsequent investigation.[10] Green was arrested in his Ashford constituency on 27 November. His constituency home and office, his London home and his Commons office were searched. After being held for nine hours, Green was released without charge.[11]

In a statement on 3 December, the Speaker of the House of Commons, Michael Martin, said:

The Serjeant at Arms called me, told me the Member’s name and said that a search might take place of his offices in the House. I was not told that the police did not have a warrant. [Hon. Members: “Ah!”] Order. I have been told that the police did not explain, as they are required to do, that the Serjeant was not obliged to consent, or that a warrant could have been insisted upon.[12]

The next day the Home Secretary released a letter from Quick which claimed, in contrast to the Speaker's account, that the police had explained the legal position to the Sergeant at Arms. It stated:

The officers explained the nature of the investigation and the purpose of the search and were satisfied that the Serjeant at Arms understood that police had no power to search in the absence of a warrant and therefore could only do so with her written consent or that of the Speaker.[13]

On 21 December, the Mail On Sunday revealed that Quick's wife was running a wedding car hire business from their family home. The paper suggested this was a potential security risk which raised questions about Quick's judgement.[14]

In a Press Association intreview that day, Quick blamed the Conservatives for the story:

The Tory machinery and their press friends are mobilised against this investigation in a wholly corrupt way, and I feel very disappointed in the country I am living in.
I think it is a very spiteful act, possibly to intimidate me away from investigating Mr Green, and I feel it has put my family at risk."[15]

Quick partially retracted his comments a few hours later, stating:

I regret and wish to retract my comment regarding corruption. The comment was made as I was in the act of having to move my family out of our home to a place of safety following the article in the Mail on Sunday.[16]

A Conservative spokesman described Quick's allegations as "absurd and wholly untrue":

"As the officer leading the inquiry into the allegations involving Damian Green, Assistant Commissioner Quick should display objective professionalism and not make baseless political attacks. He should retract all of his allegations immediately."[17]

The following week, the Mail on Sunday printed further allegation's about Quick's wife's car hire business, claiming that it appeared to be operating illegally.[18]


Quick was forced to resign in April 2009 after photographers captured confidential details on papers he was carrying into Downing Street, forcing police to bring forward a major anti-terrorist operation. London Mayor Boris Johnson announced his replacement would be John Yates, who had headed the "cash for peerages" investigation.[19]

Johnson's move, pre-empting a Metropolitan Police statement, caused tension's with Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson and Home Secretary Jacqui Smith about the Met's complicated lines of accountability.[20]


  1. Assistant Commissioner Robert Quick - responsible for Specialist Operations, Metropolitan Police Service, accessed 13 February 2009.
  2. Assistant Commissioner Robert Quick - responsible for Specialist Operations, Metropolitan Police Service, accessed 13 February 2009.
  3. Assistant Commissioner Robert Quick - responsible for Specialist Operations, Metropolitan Police Service, accessed 13 February 2009.
  4. Assistant Commissioner Robert Quick - responsible for Specialist Operations, Metropolitan Police Service, accessed 13 February 2009.
  5. Hansard debates, House of Commons, 1 April 2008.
  6. Hansard debates, House of Commons, 1 April 2008.
  7. Now Labour accused of attempt to 'politicise police' after ministers ask terror chief to make the case for 42-day detentions, by James Slack, MailOnline, 6 June 2008.
  8. 42-day detention: liberty vs public safety, The Times, 6 June 2008.
  9. Hansard, House of Lords, 11 December 2008.
  10. Profile: Bob Quick, anti-terror chief under fire, by Sean O'Neill, The Times, 23 December 2008.
  11. Timeline: Damian Green Affair, by Hélène Mulholland and Andrew Sparrow,, 20 January 2009.
  12. Hansard, House of Commons, 3 December 2008.
  13. Full text: Police letter on MP warrant, BBC News, 4 December 2008.
  14. Security scare over wedding car hire firm run from top terror police chief's home, by Martin Delgado, MailOnline, 21 December 2008.
  15. Top policeman claims 'corrupt' Tories tried to undermine Green inquiry, by Nicholas Watt,, 21 December 2008.
  16. Top policeman claims 'corrupt' Tories tried to undermine Green inquiry, by Nicholas Watt,, 21 December 2008.
  17. Top policeman claims 'corrupt' Tories tried to undermine Green inquiry, by Nicholas Watt,, 21 December 2008.
  18. Top terror chief's car hire firm is operating without a licence, by Martin Delgado, MailOnline, 28 December 2008.
  19. Vikram Dodd and David Batty, Police chief Bob Quick steps down over terror blunder,, 9 April 2009.
  20. Sandra Laville, Anti-terror chief Bob Quick forced to quit as row erupts over control of Met, The Guardian, 10 April 2009.