“Our response was first one of shock, then verbally aggressive and finally crude and disrespectful. We got so caught up in the fight we lost sight of the prize,” he said.
Last week the home affairs select committee warned of legislation if the federation rejected reforms.
But behind the scenes there remains opposition to recommendations that much of its cash reserves of around £70m should be given back to members.
One source said there is a worry that the federation may be facing huge legal costs in the future defending officers under investigation by inquiries into Hillsborough, the Stephen Lawrence case and possibly the aftermath of clashes between striking miners and police in 1984, at the so-called Battle of Orgreave.