Controversial former Greater Manchester Police chief Sir James Anderton dies age 89

James Anderton 1
Former GMP chief Sir James Anderton has died at 89 Credit: MEN media

Sir James Anderton, the controversial former Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, has died at the age of 89.

Sir James led the force between 1975 and 1991 and became one of the country's most high profile police chiefs.

Known for his controversial opinions and hard line views, he inspired the Happy Mondays track "God's Cop" and once had his job saved by Margaret Thatcher.

He had faced calls to step down after claiming victims of HIV/Aids were in a 'human cesspool of their own making'.

Sir James, who was knighted in 1990, was well regarded by many police officers who regarded him as a 'copper's copper', but also severely criticised by others for his views.

Born into a coal mining family in Wigan, Sir James joined the police in the 1950s and rose through the ranks.

He gained senior roles at forces in Cheshire and Leicestershire before being given the top job at GMP. His time in charge of the force featured high profile incidents including the Moss Side riot of 1981.

Chief Constable James Anderton, with some items looted and used by rioters during Moss Side riots Credit: PA images

He launched crackdowns against pornography, prostitution, and late night drinking. He also launched the Tactical Aid Group, which was deployed to tackle public disorder.

But he arguably became best known for his controversial views. Known as 'God’s Copper', he was heavily influenced by his Christian faith and once claimed to be 'used by God' to speak out on moral issues.

Following his controversial HIV remarks, it was revealed the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher backed him after he faced calls to quit.

He was also quoted as supporting the reintroduction of capital punishment, called on rapists to be castrated, and said homosexuality should be outlawed.

Former GMP Chief James Anderton in Manchester Credit: MEN media

Sir James is survived by his wife, Joan, and daughter, Gill.

Tributes have been paid on social media.

Current GMP Chief Constable Stephen Watson described him as a 'public servant of significant stature'.

He said: "During his fifteen year service as Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, James Anderton led the force through some of the most extensive periods of change in UK policing.

"He 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 twenty years of retirement.

"On behalf of everyone at Greater Manchester Police I extend our sincere condolences to Mr Anderton's family."

Former officers who served under him have also taken to social media to pay tribute:

Ian Campbell said: "Hearing sad news that my very first Chief Constable Sir Cyril James Anderton has passed. He was the best I ever served under and I mourn his passing. RIP Sir, you were a force of nature and we won’t see your like again."

Pete Jackson said: "Very sad to hear of Sir Cyril James Anderton passing away today. Condolences to his family. GMP Chief Constable 1976 to 1991. A great leader & the only Chief Constable of GMP to command the respect of the entire force!"

Gordon Johnson said: "So sad to hear that Sir Cyril James Anderton has passed away earlier today. The first and the best Chief Constable that I served under in @gmpolice. Thoughts and prayers are with his wife Joan and daughter Gill. RIP."