The most senior out gay police officer in the UK is being courted by two major parties as mayoral candidate for London, it has been reported.

Brian Paddick, who is currently a Deputy Assistant Commissioner in London’s Metropolitan Police, has asked to be allowed to stand down before the end of his current contract.

He is to leave the force at the end of May.

He has completed 30 years’ service and will be entitled to a full pension.

It is understood that both the Lib Dems and the Conservatives are keen to speak to him about running as their candidate for Mayor of London.

Last week the Labour party confirmed Ken Livingstone as their candidate for Mayor in the 2008 election.

He won as an independent in the first vote for Mayor in 2000 and as the party candidate in 2004.

Mr Paddick had been linked with the Lib Dem nomination before, and he has previously addressed the Lib Dem Party conference.

In August 2006 he told PinkNews.co.uk:

“I wouldn’t be comfortable as a Member of Parliament because I would be expected to attend divisions on the party line.

“But in general, the mayoral candidates have been given greater leeway to be independent by their parties.

“Remember Ken Livingstone was first elected as an independent before Labour begged him to rejoin the party.”

It is reported that Mr Paddick is going to write a book about his colourful and controversial career at the Met and that he is making a TV documentary about policing.

The Tory party’s competition for mayoral candidate has been beset by bad publicity. Last month it was rumoured that former BBC boss and Labour donor Greg Dyke had been approached to run on a joint Lib Dem/Conservative ticket.

Around ten candidates are vying for the nomination, among them policy wonk Nicholas Boles, who is gay.

The Tories know that a candidate with strong name recognition might have a chance of beating Ken Livingstone next year.

The Lib Dems are also short on a candidate who is well-known to voters – party president and 2004 candidate, veteran London MP Simon Hughes, is not expected to stand again.

Mr Paddick came to public prominence as borough commander of Lambeth, when his policy of targeting resources at class A drug dealers and taking a more relaxed approach to cannabis use caused right-wing outrage.

The policy was popular with locals, and his direct style of policing helped to foster a trust and respect with many who viewed the police with suspicion.

In 2002 a tabloid newspaper printed allegations from a former boyfriend that Mr Paddick had allowed cannabis to be smoked in his home.

No charges were ever brought against him and he was promoted.

Recently Mr Paddick has clashed with his boss, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair, over when the Met knew that they had shot an innocent man at Stockwell tube station on July 22nd 2005.

Sir Ian insists that he did not know Brazilian Jean Charles De Menezes was not a suicide bomber until the next day.

Mr Paddick gave evidence to an independent investigation that suspicions were raised almost immediately.

That inquiry is due to report later this year.

In June 2006 Mr Paddick was moved sideways by Sir Ian, and his career at the Met was not expected to develop beyond his current grade.

For all the controversy, Mr Paddick will be best remembered for inspiring many other police men and women to be open about their sexuality.

The next London mayoral election is scheduled for 1 May 2008.