Scotland Yard chief quits over hacking scandal

BBC News reports:

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson has resigned following the phone hacking scandal.

Britain’s most senior police officer has faced criticism for hiring former News of the World executive Neil Wallis – who was questioned by police investigating hacking – as an adviser.

Sir Paul said his links to the journalist could hamper investigations.

He said there were lessons to be learned from the affair, but he was leaving with his integrity intact.

The Guardian reports:

Sir Paul Stephenson, the Metropolitan police commissioner, had social drinks on up to four occasions over the past two years with the former News of the World deputy editor who was arrested and then bailed last week.

Stephenson already faces a grilling this week by a parliamentary select committee over his recruitment of Neil Wallis as a public relations consultant last year. Wallis, known as “Wolfman” on Fleet Street because of his fiery temper and his beard, worked at the NoW between 2003 and 2009, a period when the phone hacking by reporters on the newspaper is alleged to have taken place.

Now it has emerged that on top of 18 business meals he took with Wallis and other News International executives between 2005 and 2009, which were acknowledged on the gifts and hospitality register, the commissioner also socialised in his own time with the former tabloid journalist.

The development is of particular concern because it is understood that Stephenson accepted a personal assurance from Wallis that he had nothing to do with phone hacking at the paper.

It is also understood that during a 12-year friendship, the Met’s assistant commissioner, John Yates, enjoyed dozens of social drinks with Wallis, including several occasions over the past two years when the officer was involved in reviewing the phone-hacking investigation. A source said: “They are close friends and know each other well.”

The revelations will concern the home affairs select committee, which has called Stephenson to attend a hearing on Tuesday. Scotland Yard was forced to respond to further allegations which may now also be raised during the hearing.

On Saturday night, it emerged that earlier this year Stephenson, who earns £276,000 a year, accepted a free five-week holiday at Champneys, in Tring, Hertfordshire, a spa resort promoted by the Outside Organisation, a public relations firm for which Wallis is managing director.

Scotland Yard insisted that the holiday, estimated to be worth £12,000, was a gift from the managing director of the resort, who has been a friend of Stephenson’s for 20 years.

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