Tribute to RUC chief constable who led force in 1970s

Kenneth Newman, pictured in June 1979
Kenneth Newman, pictured in June 1979

Tribute has been paid to an officer who led the RUC through some of the most turbulent and bloody years of its history.

The funeral for ex-chief constable Sir Kenneth Newman was held on Thursday in Bournemouth, Dorset.

An Englishman who originally hailed from Sussex, he came to Northern Ireland in 1973 to become deputy chief constable of the force, and rose to take overall command of it three years later.

He remained with the force until 1980.

The Times of London described his tenure as having been marked by a battle with the military over who would take the lead in tackling the security situation, adding that he essentially undertook the task of “retaking the streets from the Army”.

After leaving Northern Ireland, he became commissioner of the Metropolitan Police in London.

The Times reports he died on February 4, aged 90.

Independent MP Lady Sylvia Hermon, the widow of Sir John ‘Jack’ Hermon who took over control of the RUC after Sir Kenneth left, has written to Sir Kenneth’s widow to offer her condolences.

Whilst she never met Sir Kenneth or his wife Eileen face-to-face, Lady Hermon said that her husband “spoke so often and so highly about them both that I came to feel as if I had known them”.

“They were clearly a popular and well-respected couple, who showed great compassion for officers injured and families bereaved through acts of terrorism,” said Lady Hermon, who is patron of the RUC George Cross Widows’ Association.

She said she had heard “many warm tributes” to him since he died, adding that he had “earned real admiration and affection within the RUC family”.