No-frills ‘copper of God’ James Anderton dies aged 89

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Outspoken former police chief Sir James Anderton has died aged 89.

Sir James became a known national figure during his tenure as head of Greater Manchester Police between 1975 and 1991.

The former Methodist lay preacher, who converted to Catholicism, was dubbed ‘God’s copper’ after he claimed he could receive divine inspiration to speak out on moral issues.

In 1986 he faced calls to resign after widely reported comments about AIDS in which he referred to people “swirling around in a cesspool of their own making”.

I would beat criminals myself, most certainly

Another controversy arose a year later when he spoke of administering corporal punishment to criminals to make them “beg for mercy”.

In the interview with Woman’s Own magazine, he added, “They should be punished until they repent of their sins.

“I would beat criminals myself, most definitely.”

He was knighted in 1990 before his retirement.

Greater Manchester Police paid tribute to Wigan-born Sir James on their Facebook page.

James Anderton with then Home Secretary Willie Whitelaw (Archive/PA) / PA Archives

It read: ‘Today we pay tribute to retired Chief Constable Sir Cyril James Anderton, who has sadly passed away.

“James was Chief Constable from 1976 to 1991 during one of the most significant periods of change in British policing.

“He was a public servant of stature who oversaw many innovative and significant operational developments, leaving behind a lasting legacy in policing.

“He was well liked by police and staff and is still well remembered in GMP after more than 20 years in retirement.

“The thoughts and heartfelt condolences of everyone at Greater Manchester Police go out to the family and friends of Mr Anderton.”

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