Maryland Attorney-General Douglas Gansler regularly ordered police assigned to drive him to turn on the lights and sirens on the way to routine appointments, directing them to speed and run red lights, according to written accounts by the Maryland State Police.

When police refused to activate the emergency equipment, Mr Gansler, now a Democratic candidate for governor, often flipped the switches himself, according to the police accounts.

On occasion, he became so impatient that he insisted on driving, directing the policeman to the passenger's seat. Mr Gansler once ran four red lights with sirens blaring, one policeman wrote.

''This extremely irresponsible behaviour is non-stop and occurs on a daily basis,'' Lieutenant Charles Ardolini, commander of the state police executive protection section, wrote in a December 2011 memo that said the problem had existed for five years. ''Attorney-General Gansler has consistently acted in a way that disregards public safety, our troopers' safety and even the law.''

In a statement, Mr Gansler said the portrait that emerged from the state police memos and emails obtained by The Washington Post under the Maryland Public Information Act was untrue. A spokesman for the Attorney-General said long-running animosity between Mr Gansler and Lieutenant Ardolini was partly responsible.

Lieutenant Ardolini's memo said Mr Gansler insisted on driving with lights and sirens to routine events such as ''breakfast, meetings and his children's sporting events''.

Washington Post