October 2, 2022

Another Top Police Official Resigns in British Scandal

Such is the severity of the criris swirling around the Murdoch empire and Britain’s public life that Prime Minister David Cameron cut short an African trip on Monday and ordered a special parliamentary session back home to debate the widening scandal.

Mr. Yates is a high profile officer who had been involved in earlier inconclusive police investigations of the scandal. The Metropolitan police announced his resignation and said he would make a statement later on Monday. He and other officers have been underscrutiny by trying to determine why the Metropolitan Police decided to strictly limit the initial phone-hacking inquiry in 2006.

Speaking in South Africa, Mr. Cameron said Parliament would be extended beyond the start of its scheduled summer recess for an emergency session on Wednesday, a day after Mr. Murdoch, his son James and Ms. Brooks are set to testify to a parliamentary inquiry into the scandal.

The announcement came a day after Sir Paul Stephenson, commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service, commonly known as the Met, said that he had decided to step down because “the ongoing speculation and accusations relating to the Met’s links with News International at a senior level” had made it difficult for him to do his job.

But he said that he had done nothing wrong. He also said that because he had not been involved in the original phone-hacking investigation, he had had no idea that Neil Wallis, a former News of the World deputy editor who had become a public-relations consultant for the police after leaving the paper, was himself suspected of phone hacking, as the unauthorized accessing of voice mail is known.

Mr. Wallis, 60, was arrested last Thursday.

Boris Johnson, the London mayor, said Mr. Yates decided to resign after police authorities said he would be suspended while his links to Mr. Wallis were investigated.

Commissioner Stephenson tried to deflect attention from his own role in the scandal by implicitly criticizing Mr. Cameron’s decision in 2009 to hire Andy Coulson, another former News of the World editor, as his own spokesman. At least Mr. Wallis had not resigned from the paper under a cloud, as Mr. Coulson had, the commissioner said. The crisis has exploded in the two weeks since reports that The News of the World ordered the hacking of the cellphone of a 13-year-old girl who had been abducted and murdered.

The prime minister, who has come under repeated attacks over his relationship with Mr. Coulson, defended himself on Monday.

“In terms of Andy Coulson, no one has argued that the work he did in government was in any way inappropriate or bad,” he said, speaking at a news conference in South Africa alongside President Jacob Zuma.

“The situation in the Metropolitan Police Service is really quite different to the situation in the government, not least because the issues that the Metropolitan Police are looking at, the issues around them, have had a direct bearing on public confidence into the police inquiry into The News of the World and indeed into the police themselves,” Mr. Cameron said.

Under pressure from the Labour opposition, the prime minister said Parliament would be called to a special session on Wednesday to “answer any questions that may arise” and “so I can make a further statement.”

Back in Britain, Ed Miliband, the leader of the opposition Labour Party and a persistent irritant to Mr. Cameron throughout the crisis, repeated his attacks on what he called the prime minister’s “spectacular error of judgment” in hiring Mr. Coulson, despite warnings about Mr. Coulson’s possibly murky past.

“It is of great concern,” Mr. Miliband said in a speech, “that the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police was unable to discuss vital issues with the Prime Minister because he felt that David Cameron was himself compromised on this issue because of Andy Coulson.”

He added: “It is also striking that Sir Paul Stephenson has taken responsibility and resigned over the employment of Mr. Coulson’s deputy, while the Prime Minister hasn’t even apologized for hiring Mr. Coulson.”

Jo Becker, Ravi Somaiya and Alan Cowell contributed reporting from London, and Jeremy W. Peters from New York.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=3b33918a86fd9e29c3b379f67332c952

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