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UK's top anti-terror policeman resigns

BRITAIN'S top counterterrorism officer resigned from London's Metropolitan Police today - one day after his major security blunder forced police to move up a major operation in northern England.

Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick, who was the senior police counterterrorism officer in Britain was photographed Wednesday clutching confidential documents that could clearly be seen as he arrived for a meeting with Prime Minister Gordon Brown at 10 Downing St. The documents showed details of a major anti-terror operation in northern England.

In anti-terror raids later on Wednesday, police arrested a dozen men.

"I have today offered my resignation in the knowledge that my action could have compromised a major counterterrorism operation," Quick said in a statement released by the department.

"I deeply regret the disruption caused to colleagues undertaking the operation and remain grateful for the way in which they adapted quickly and professionally to a revised time scale."

Commissioner Paul Stephenson, who heads the Metropolitan Police, said Quick "accepted that he made a serious error and that has led to his resignation this morning."

Assistant Commissioner John Yates will replace Quick as head of counterterrorism, London Mayor Boris Johnson said.

Opposition lawmaker Chris Grayling said Quick did the right thing by resigning.

"It is unacceptable for Britain's most senior anti-terrorist officer to have had such an extraordinary lapse in judgment. To put the security of his police officers and the operation at risk has rendered his position untenable," Grayling said.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, whose department is in charge of policing, said Quick felt his position was untenable although she said the anti-terror sweep was successful.

Hundreds of officers across northwest England were involved in the anti-terror raids Wednesday evening.

Greater Manchester Police said the suspects were detained under anti-terrorism laws at addresses in the cities of Manchester and Liverpool and the surrounding area, about 200 miles (300 kilometers) northwest of London.

Police did not provide details about why they conducted the raids except to say they "acted on intelligence received." They said the suspects ranged in age from a youth in his mid-teens to a 41-year-old man.

The British government currently assesses the country's terror threat level as "severe," the second-highest of five possible ratings.

It has been at that level or higher since suicide bombers killed 52 commuters on London's bus and subway system on July 7, 2005.


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