Who is DCI Tony Gates in 'Line of Duty'?

Tony Gates in Line of Duty Season 1
Tony Gates is the main subject of investigation in Line of Duty Season 1. (Image credit: BBC/World Productions/Ed Miller)

DCI Tony Gates was a firm Season 1 character, but as always with Line of Duty's clever plotting, the long-deceased character is still relevant in the crime drama nearly a decade on.

Line of Duty fans know that Jed Mercurio's genius storylines mean every character that appears in the show is there for a very good reason. But who was Tony Gates and why is he still being mentioned in Season 6?  

Here is everything you need to know about Detective Chief Inspector Tony Gates... 

Who was Tony Gates in 'Line of Duty'? 

Tony Gates was a Detective Chief Inspector and the main focus of AC-12's investigations into corrupt conduct in Season 1 of Line of Duty

He was the head of TO-20, the Tactical Operations Division, which was a serious crime unit of Central Police. The unit operated out of Kingsgate Station but was closed down after Season 1. 

Tony's name has been mentioned in Line of Duty Season 5 after the body of his former lover Jackie Laverty was found alongside undercover-cop-gone-rogue DS John Corbett. 

Most recently he has been mentioned in Line of Duty Season 6 when Steve Arnott (Martin Compston) and Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure) were trying to work out where they remembered OCG-member-turned-police-officer Ryan Pilkington from. 

Line of Duty Tony Gates

Tony Gates' affair with Jackie Laverty landed him in more trouble than he could have ever imagined.  (Image credit: BBC/World Productions)

How was Tony Gates linked to Jackie Laverty? 

Season 1 of Line of Duty revealed that Tony Gates had a romantic history with Jackie Laverty, a property developer who was also later an associate of OCG boss Tommy Hunter. 

The pair were once engaged, however their relationship ended when Jackie left Gates for a rich businessman Andrew Laverty. However Jackie and Andrew divorced before the start of Season 1, leaving Jackie and a now-married Gates to start an affair. 

Jackie then got caught up with OCG boss Tommy Hunter, which eventually lead to her murder, with the OCG framing Tony for the crime.

Was Tony Gates corrupt? 

While he wasn't corrupt through and through, Tony Gates made a series of bad choices that left him on the wrong side of the law. The first drama came when he covered up  Jackie Lavery's hit and run. 

She first told him that she'd driven home drunk from an event and accidentally hit an animal. Tony helped her cover up what happened, only for it later to emerge Jackie had actually hit and killed a person. 

The truth eventually emerged that she had intentionally killed her accountant in a bid to silence him after he'd discovered she was working alongside Tommy Hunter and the OCG. 

Tony went to confront Jackie at her home, urging her to come clean for her crimes, but while he was there the OCG broke in and murdered Jackie before placing Tony's fingerprints on the murder weapon to frame him.

The OCG then kidnaped Gates and showed him Jackie's body in a freezer, telling him they have got all the evidence they need to send him down for her killing and ordering him to be their police mole in exchange for their silence. 

A teenage Ryan Pilkington - who in Season 6 is all grown up and still working for the OCG, but now as a police officer on MIT - then gave Gates a burner phone, leaving Gates at the mercy of OCG mastermind Tommy Hunter. 

Line of Duty Steve Arnott and Tony Gates

By the end of Season 1 Steve Arnott realised Tony Gates had got himself in too deep with the OCG.  (Image credit: BBC/World Productions)

How did Tony Gates die?

Having finally caught a confession on tape from Tommy Hunter for the murder of Wesley Duke, Gates stoped the car he was driving with Tommy in the passenger seat and arrested the OCG boss. 

Knowing his career was over because of helping to cover Jackie's hit and run crime and colluding with the OCG, Tony handed Hunter over to AC-12 before taking his own life by walking in the path of an oncoming lorry. The decision was based on the fact he knew he would be arrested and thrown out of the police, which would lead to his wife and two daughters being left with nothing. 

In the end Steve Arnott tells Superintendent Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar) that Tony Gates died while trying to detain a suspect and therefore died in the line of duty, meaning his family got his Death in Service benefit and also his police pension. 

Who played Tony Gates?

Actor Lennie James played the role of Tony Gates. He has also appeared in TV shows like The Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead, Critical on Sky One, and CBS show Jericho. He also created and acted in Sky Atlantic drama Save Me. 

Lennie has also appeared in numerous films including Blade Runner 2049, Double Play, Get on Up, Lockout, Colombiana and Outlaw

Line of Duty airs on Sundays at 9pm on BBC One. You can catch up on past series and missed episode on BBC iPlayer. 

Claire Crick
Assistant Managing Editor at What To Watch

Claire is Assistant Managing Editor at What To Watch and has been a journalist for over 15 years, writing about everything from soaps and TV to beauty, entertainment, and even the Royal Family. After starting her career at a soap magazine, she ended up staying for 13 years, and over that time she’s pulled pints in the Rovers Return, sung karaoke in the Emmerdale village hall, taken a stroll around Albert Square, and visited Summer Bay Surf Club in sunny Australia. 

After learning some tricks of the trade at websites Digital Spy, Entertainment Daily, and Woman & Home, Claire landed a role at What’s On TV and whattowatch.com writing about all things TV and film, with a particular love for Aussie soaps, Strictly Come Dancing and Bake Off

She’s interviewed everyone from June Brown — AKA Dot Cotton — to Michelle Keegan, swapped cooking tips with baking legend Mary Berry backstage at the NTAs, and danced the night away with soap stars at countless awards bashes. There’s not a lot she doesn’t know about soaps and TV and can be very handy when a soapy question comes up in a pub quiz! 

As well as all things soap-related, Claire also loves running, spa breaks, days out with her kids, and getting lost in a good book.