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David Cameron under pressure over links to phone hacking scandal

The UK’s most senior police officer appeared to fire a parting shot at the prime minister as Rebekah Brooks was bailed last night following 12 hours questioning.

David Cameron and Sir Paul Stephenson who resigned last night (File photo)
David Cameron and Sir Paul Stephenson who resigned last night (File photo)
Image: Toby Melville/PA Wire/Press Association Images

THE UK PRIME Minister David Cameron is under pressure over his links to the phone hacking scandal today following the sensational resignation of the country’s top police officer yesterday evening.

Sir Paul Stephenson resigned as commissioner of the Metropolitan Police force following criticism about the Met’s hiring of a former News International executive, Neil Wallis, who was arrested on suspicion of phone hacking last week.

Sir Paul denied any wrongdoing and fired what many view as a parting shot at Cameron over his relationship with former News of the World editor Andy Coulsen who worked as communications chief at Downing Street before resigning over the scandal in January.

In a lengthy resignation statement Sir Paul said:

Let me turn to the reported displeasure of the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary of the relationship with Mr Wallis.

At the time [I had] no reason for considering the contractual relationship to be a matter of concern.

Unlike Mr Coulson, Mr Wallis had not resigned from the News of the World or, to the best of my knowledge been in any way associated with the original phone hacking investigation.

The Daily Telegraph reports that Sir Paul was making a point that whilst Wallis was not associated with phone hacking at the time he was employed at the Met in 2009, Coulsen’s link to the scandal was evident at the time he was employed by Cameron in 2007.

Coulsen had resigned as editor of the News of the World following the jailing of the paper’s former royal editor Clive Goodman and a private investigator Glen Mulcaire who were accused of hacking the phones of members of the royal family, although Coulsen denied he knew anything about it.

Cameron’s relationship with his former communications chief remains under scrutiny as do his close ties to News International CEO Rebekah Brooks whom he attended the wedding of and who was arrested and questioned by police for 12 hours yesterday over phone hacking and corruption.

Brooks went to a London police station by appointment yesterday but there is some doubt over whether she knew she would be arrested. Eventually she was bailed at midnight last night until October.

Questions have now arisen as to how much she will be able to say when she appears before MPs to answer questions put by the Culture, Media and Sport select committee on Tuesday afternoon.

Indeed her spokesman told Sky News that whilst Brooks has offered to answer police questions as far back as January it was only after she resigned as News International CEO on Friday that police contacted her and asked to speak with her.

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“The arrest puts her in a difficult position in terms of her scheduled appearance at the meeting on Tuesday. Rebekah’s lawyers will be seeking guidance as to the course of action in regards to attending the meeting on Tuesday,” a spokesman said.

News Corporation chairman, of which News International is a subsidiary, Rupert Murdoch and his son James Murdoch, chairman of the company’s European and Asian operations, will also appear before MPs on Tuesday afternoon.

One of Murdoch’s newspapers, the Wall Street Journal has attempted to redirect criticism levelled against its owner by accusing the Guardian, which has led the way in investigating the scandal, and the BBC of driving coverage of the phone hacking story for “commercial and idealogical motives.”

“It is also worth noting the irony of so much moral outrage devoted to a single media company, when British tabloids have been known for decades for buying scoops and digging up dirt on the famous,” the paper says.

Read: Meet the Murdochs >

Read: Hacking scandal timeline >

Read all our hacking scandal coverage >

About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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