John Hermon

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Sir John Hermon
Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary
In office
Preceded by Sir Kenneth Newman
Succeeded by Sir Hugh Annesley
Personal details
Born (1928-11-23)23 November 1928
Castletown, Northern Ireland
Died 6 November 2008(2008-11-06) (aged 79)
Bangor, Northern Ireland
Nationality British
Spouse(s) Jean Webb (1954–1986)
Sylvia Paisley (1988–2008)
Children 4
Religion Presbyterian

Sir John Charles Hermon, OBE, QPM (23 November 1928 – 6 November 2008), sometimes known as Jack Hermon, was the Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary from 1980–89.

Early life[edit]

John Hermon was born in Castletown, Islandmagee, County Antrim to William Rowan Hermon, a building contractor, and his wife, Agnes. He had a grammar school education and gave up an early career in accountancy to join the Royal Ulster Constabulary in 1950.


After joining the RUC, he was posted in various parts of western Northern Ireland, including Eglinton, Coalisland and Strabane before sitting his sergeant's examinations. He was the first RUC officer to attend the advanced policing course at the British police training college in Bramshill in England in 1963.[1]

He became Chief Constable in 1980, after an attachment to Scotland Yard. As Chief Constable, he changed the interview processes of terrorist suspects at the Castlereagh interrogation centre. An anonymous former interrogator has claimed that "The new chief constable was completely against any mistreatment of prisoners whatsoever...we started to detect a change .... straight away." Hermon is thought to have believed that the allegations of mistreatment were harming relations between the RUC and the wider communities.[2] He retired in 1989, and became the longest-serving Chief Constable of the RUC.[3]

One analysis has argued that Hermon's actions in charge of the RUC 'transformed it into a more independent force, shorn of its worst sectarian sympathies'[3] and that these reforms also had the effect of allowing the RUC to be better able to support the peace process in the 1990s than it would have been otherwise.

Post-policing work[edit]

In June 1989, Hermon became a consultant to a private security company.[3]


He married Jean Webb in 1954, and had a son and a daughter before she died of cancer in 1986. In 1987 he met Sylvia Paisley who had written an academic paper critical of Hermon's conduct in an employment case brought by female RUC officers. They married and had two sons.[4] After his death, Lady Hermon, was from 2005 to 2010 the sole Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) Member of Parliament. In 2010 she was re-elected as an independent, with an increased majority.[5] She has held the North Down seat since 2001.


He is reported as being distrustful of politicians in general, after an incident in 1964 involving Ian Paisley.[3] (In 1977 he personally was arrested for leading an illegal demonstration in Ballymena, County Antrim.[6] He also worked as the force's head of community relations.[2])

In 1998, Hermon campaigned for a yes vote during the Belfast Agreement referendum.[4]


Hermon suffered from Alzheimer's disease since at least 2004 until his death on 6 November 2008, several weeks before his 80th birthday.[7] He died in a nursing home in Bangor.[8]


  • Holding the Line (Autobiography) 1997[3]
Police appointments
Preceded by
Kenneth Leslie Newman
Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary
Succeeded by
Hugh Annesley


  1. ^ Owen Bowcott. "Obituary: Sir John Hermon". the Guardian. Retrieved 14 August 2015. 
  2. ^ a b Ian Cobain 'Inside Castlereagh: 'We got confessions by torture' (The Guardian, Monday, 11 October 2010)
  3. ^ a b c d e Owen Bowcott. "Obituary: Sir John Hermon". the Guardian. Retrieved 14 August 2015. 
  4. ^ a b Obituary in The Telegraph
  5. ^ "MP Lady Sylvia Hermon quits Ulster Unionists". BBC News. 25 March 2010. Retrieved 25 March 2010. 
  6. ^ Obituary, Sunday Independent, p. 35, 9 November 2008.
  7. ^ "BBC NEWS – UK – Northern Ireland – Former police chief Hermon dies". 
  8. ^ "Farewell to Sir Jack Hermon". Belfast Telegraph. 10 November 2008. Retrieved 20 November 2011. 

External links[edit]