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The Real Life Ted Hastings Who Caught Nearly 500 Bent Coppers

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The Real Life Ted Hastings Who Caught Nearly 500 Bent Coppers

After leading AC12 through six seasons of police corruption in Line of Duty, Superintendent Ted Hastings has become one of TV's most beloved characters of all time - as respected for his war on bent coppers as he is for his dramatic catchphrases.

But the hugely popular BBC series isn't just the work of fiction, as its story is actually inspired by the real-life dramas of the Met's first internal anti-corruption unit, A10, which was set up in the 1970s to tackle the growing problem of police misconduct

Credit: BBC
Credit: BBC

The groundbreaking new unit was founded by a man called Sir Robert Mark, who became Commissioner of London's Metropolitan Police force in 1972, and went on to become a key figure in strengthening police discipline.

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He had said he wanted a Criminal Investigation Department that 'catches more criminals than it employs', and recruited a group of specially-selected officers from both uniform and detective branches.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA
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The team worked directly under Mark to investigate allegations against other Met Police officers, with A10's single biggest inquiry taking on senior commanders from the Met's Obscene Publications Squad - who had been dubbed the 'Dirty Squad'.

According to the BBC - which recently launched a brand new docu-series about A10 and police corruption called Bent Coppers - the Met top dogs had been accused of accepting bribes from porn tycoons like Jimmy Humphreys, who had been seen rubbing shoulders with Detective Chief Superintendent Kenneth Drury on luxurious holidays.

Adrian Dunbar as Ted Hastings in Line of Duty. Credit: BBC
Adrian Dunbar as Ted Hastings in Line of Duty. Credit: BBC

Humphreys' house was raided, revealing a diary filled with detailed records of payments to high-ranking officers, amounting to tens of thousands of pounds.

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By the time A10 were finished with the Dirty Squad, no less than 18 officers were sentenced to more than 100 years imprisonment.

But this was just one of the unit's investigations, as under Mark's leadership between 1972 and 1977, A10 managed to catch nearly 500 police officers, who were either prosecuted, dismissed or forced to resign.

Mark was knighted in 1973 and retired in 1977, before passing away at 93 in 2010.

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Sir Robert Mark, centre. Credit: PA
Sir Robert Mark, centre. Credit: PA

Announcing his death, Sir Paul Stephenson - the Met Police Commissioner at the time - said Mark was a 'role model' after 'rooting out corruption' from the force.

In a statement, Stephenson said: "It is with great sadness that I have to pass on the news that Sir Robert Mark died last night.

"Sir Robert was an extremely distinguished commissioner who will be remembered for his service to London and, in particular, for rooting out corruption from the Metropolitan Police during the 1970s, at a key period in our history.

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"He was a man of the highest integrity and remains a role model to police officers."

Credit: BBC
Credit: BBC

In an obituary published by the Guardian in 2010, intelligence and security services journalist Duncan Campbell said Mark's task was 'vast', having inherited corruption that was 'endemic and cynical'.

Campbell wrote: "His achievement, by the time he left as commissioner in 1977, was to make corrupt officers within the Met - and there were literally hundreds of them - feel like outsiders themselves."

He said that 'entrenced interests within Scotland Yard' had made every effort to block his path, adding: "But he went after those interests ruthlessly, leading to the early departure of 478 officers, a rate six times higher than under his predecessor. Some 50 appeared in court, and the wholesale, institutionalised corruption of the 1960s and 70s within the CID was ended - largely the result of work by the man once nicknamed the Lone Ranger of Leicester."

Featured Image Credit: BBC

Topics: Police, UK News, Entertainment, TV and Film, News, Line of Duty

Jess Hardiman
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