United Kingdom: Phone hacking scandal – police chief quits

18 July 2011
The Times

The Times, 18 July 2011

“Forced out,” headlines The Times, as Sir Paul Stephenson, chief of London’s Metropolitan police, becomes the latest head to roll in the ongoing News International phone-hacking saga. Stephenson’s position became untenable after the arrest of Neil Wallis, a former News of the World deputy editor during the period when phone hacking was rife at the paper. It emerged that Wallis had worked as a communications advisor to Stephenson, at a time when Scotland Yard was rejecting calls for the reopening of a criminal investigation into phone hacking by the Rupert Murdoch owned paper. The Times also notes that “Sir Paul accepted £12,000 [€13,700] of hospitality at a health retreat for which Mr Wallis carried out publicity.”

The Met chief’s resignation comes after a dramatic weekend which saw News International executive chief Rebekah Brooks quit her post. She was later arrested after being identified as a criminal suspect in Scotland Yard’s ongoing phone-hacking investigation. Brooks, along with News International’s owner, Rupert Murdoch, is due to appear before MPs on Tuesday 19 July to answer questions on the phone-hacking scandal. The Stephenson resignation spells yet more trouble for PM David Cameron, who employed as his PR former News of the World chief, Andy Coulson, also a prime suspect in the police inquiry. The Prime Minister is to “cut short his trade visit to Africa, abandoning a visit to Rwanda, to enable him to return home promptly to deal with the phone hacking scandal,” the London daily notes.