Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Hacking Scandal Has the Met in Turmoil

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Hacking Scandal Has the Met in Turmoil

Article excerpt

THE RESIGNATION of the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Sir Paul Stephenson, amounts to the biggest casualty to date of the News International phone hacking scandal. In a day of turmoil for the Met, Assistant Commissioner John Yates followed him by resigning this afternoon. Like Sir Paul, Mr Yates's friendship with former News of the World deputy editor, Neil Wallis, made his position untenable; Mr Wallis was arrested last week. Senior officers' relationship with Wallis added to an impression of unhealthy closeness between the Met and News International. The situation created by the hacking scandal is now so serious that the parliamentary recess has been postponed so that MPs can debate the issue at length.

Sir Paul had no choice in the end other than to go. But his resignation is a loss to London. He was a very good commissioner. He had a sound grasp of policing priorities and his regime was, unlike that of his predecessor, Sir Ian Blair, untainted by factionalism. After the debacle of the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes, Sir Paul provided stability for the Met. For most Londoners the effort to contain street crime and combat terrorism are a good deal more important than phone hacking: they will feel that the scandal has deprived the capital of a committed police chief.

Nonetheless, Sir Paul's resignation was a recognition of his own errors of judgment. It should have been readily apparent that Neil Wallis's position at the News of the World during the hacking affair made him an unsuitable appointment. Sir Paul was ill served by his advisers here, but he was nonetheless responsible for that decision.

To cap all of this, it turned out this weekend that Sir Paul also accepted hospitality from Champneys health spa, which happened to employ Mr Wallis as its PR man. …

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