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17th July 2011
Tonight the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson announced his resignation. (Statement here)
After just two and a half years in the post, Sir Paul has shocked the Police, Press, Political and chattering classes by resigning. The idea that anything could have made the arrest today of Rebekah Brooks, editor of the paper formerly known as The News of The World into insignificance would have been laughable just this afternoon. But this is another hour. And the BBC, for one (gloating?) news outlet, can hardly wait till tomorrow.
Sir Paul’s statement was handled gracefully and honourably but was still utterly shocking. For the reasons he felt this was necessary I’m sure The Guardian and others will provide opinion, viz the Neil Wallis relationship & health spa, and differences regarding the Coulson and Wallis contracts and relevent history.
Is it too simplistic to suggest that it may boil down to this: that John Yates, Assistant Commissioner didn’t fall on his sword as he should have done, couldn’t be sacked or would have been seen as a scapegoat, therefore Sir Paul has resigned?
YATES OF THE YARD OF LIES?
I do not instinctively pre-judge. I criticise others enough for finding people guilty first, then expecting them to prove their innocence. But there is little doubt that after John Yates’ grilling by the Parliamentary Select Committee a few days ago, where he admitted not looking through the papers he had in 2006 on the hacking scandal, and especially in the light of Keith Vaz’s closing words to him – “unconvincing“, that Yates should have resigned before now REGARDLESS, even if Sir Paul had subsequently felt the need to do so.
NOT EMPTYING THE BINBAGS. JUST (NOT) FOLLOWING THE EVIDENCE
At worst police could be guilty of crimes themselves, writes Don Van Natta
For nearly four years they lay piled in a Scotland Yard evidence room: six overstuffed plastic bags gathering dust and little else.
Inside was a treasure-trove of evidence: 11,000 pages of handwritten notes listing nearly 4000 celebrities, politicians, sports stars, police officials and crime victims whose phones may have been hacked by the News of the World, the now defunct British tabloid newspaper.
Yet from August 2006, when the items were seized, until the northern autumn of last year, no one at Scotland Yard bothered to sort through all the material and catalogue every page, said former and present senior police officials.
The Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service, John Yates, publicly acknowledged that he had not actually gone through the evidence. ”I’m not going to go down and look at bin bags,” he said.
At best, former Scotland Yard senior officers acknowledged in interviews, the police have been lazy, incompetent and too cosy with the people they should have regarded as suspects. At worst, they said, some officers might be guilty of crimes themselves.
”It’s embarrassing and it’s tragic,” a retired Scotland Yard veteran said. ”This has badly damaged the reputation of a really good investigative organisation. And there is a major crisis now in the leadership of the Yard.”
NOTHING TO DO WITH ME/US, GUV!
An intriguing aspect of all of this is the general silence then the surge of denials from Number 10 (regarding this resignation). Very defensive, some might suggest. And of course we ALL know Sir Paul was not pushed. So there! David Cameron will be out of the country tomorrow leaving the Home Secretary to deal with all issues now – sorry, then in the public square.
And meanwhile we wait to see if the Home Affairs Select Committee at which Sir Paul is due to appear along with the other Sunday casualty, has anyone left to grill.
So, latest casualties in this triangle of interest – the press/police/politicians –
1. Top Journalist resigned and then arrested
2. Top Police office resigned
3. ? Anyone political?
Live news coverage here at Sky News
Btw, before the story broke that there was to be a MET announcement I was thinking of drafting a post titled – “Who Polices The Police?” As is the way in hackgate this question has, if only temporarily, slipped into the background. The Head of the MET has fallen on his sword, even if he shouldn’t have had to.
The astounding news earlier today of the arrest of Rebekah Brooks had us all awaiting the next event in the unfolding story of #hackgate as twitters hashtag it. And so it proved that our wait was not to be long.
Tweeters on this:
Dale&Co: Sir Paul Stephenson: A Bizarre Resignation: Iain Dale thinks we call for resignations far too easily no… http://bit.ly/pObPWm
The Australian: Hype over News of The World/News International “media scandal” – for chattering classes only – the average punter has other concerns.
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Tags: cash for honours, Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis, Hackgate, john yates, Keith Vaz, Neil Wallis, News International, News of the World, Rebekah Brooks, Scotland Yard, Sir Paul Stephenson, twitter, yackered