John Hermon

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Sir John Hermon

Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary
In office
Preceded bySir Kenneth Newman
Succeeded bySir Hugh Annesley
Personal details
Born(1928-11-23)23 November 1928
Castletown, Northern Ireland
Died6 November 2008(2008-11-06) (aged 79)
Bangor, Northern Ireland
Spouse(s)Jean Webb (1954–1986)
Sylvia Paisley (1988–2008)

Sir John Charles Hermon OBE QPM (23 November 1928 – 6 November 2008) was the Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary from 1980–1989.

Early life[edit]

'Jack' 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.[1]


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.[2]

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.[3] He retired in 1989, and became the longest-serving Chief Constable of the RUC.[2]

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' 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.[citation needed] After retiring, he became, in June 1989, a consultant to a private security company.[2]


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.[1] After his death, his widow, Lady Hermon, was, from 2005 to 2010, the sole Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) Member of Parliament. Since 2010 she has been re-elected as an independent, with an increased majority.[4] She has held the North Down seat since 2001.


In 1998, Hermon campaigned for a yes vote during the Belfast Agreement referendum.[1]


Sir Jack Hermon suffered from Alzheimer's disease from at least 2004 until his death on 6 November 2008, several weeks before his 80th birthday.[5] He died in a nursing home in Bangor.[6]


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


  1. ^ a b c Obituary,; accessed 22 June 2017.
  2. ^ a b c Owen Bowcott. "Obituary: Sir John Hermon". the Guardian. Retrieved 14 August 2015.
  3. ^ Ian Cobain 'Inside Castlereagh: 'We got confessions by torture' (The Guardian, Monday, 11 October 2010)
  4. ^ "MP Lady Sylvia Hermon quits Ulster Unionists". BBC News. 25 March 2010. Retrieved 25 March 2010.
  5. ^ "Former police chief Hermon dies". Retrieved 22 June 2017.
  6. ^ "Farewell to Sir Jack Hermon". Belfast Telegraph. 10 November 2008. Retrieved 20 November 2011.

External links[edit]