No-nonsense ‘God’s copper’ James Anderton dies aged 89


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

Sir James became a national known figure during his spell in charge at Greater Manchester Police between 1975 and 1991.

The former Methodist lay preacher, who converted to Catholicism, was nicknamed “God’s copper” after he claimed he could be receiving divine inspiration to speak out on moral issues.

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

I’d thrash some criminals myself, most surely

James Anderton

Further controversy came 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’d thrash some criminals myself, most surely.”

He was knighted in 1990 before his retirement.

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

James Anderton with then home secretary Willie Whitelaw (Archive/PA)

(PA Archive)

It read: “Today we pay tribute to retired chief constable Sir Cyril James Anderton who has sadly passed away.

“James served as chief constable from 1976 to 1991 during one of the most extensive periods of change in UK policing.

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

“He was highly regarded by police officers and staff and is still well remembered within GMP after over 20 years of retirement.

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


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