Monday, July 18, 2011

The Cop and the PM in Britain

Amazing stuff. Sir Paul Stephenson, the London police commissioner (head of Scotland Yard?) resigns over the "phone hacking" scandal. He employed Neil Wallis to do PR for the police for about a year, from September 2009 to September 2010. This was after Wallis had lost his position with News of the World over the earlier phone hacking scandal--apparently confined to celebrities and royalty. Earlier this year Stephenson accepted hospitality from a spa or resort (he was recovering from surgery), and by this time, Wallis was working on a contract with this spa. The Daily Telegraph has diligently worked out that:

Sir Paul was offered hospitality by News International on 15 occasions between April 2007 and March 2010 - accepting 14 of the invitations.

What's amazing is that in his televised statement on his resignation, Stephenson pointed the finger right at Cameron. At no time did Stephenson hire Wallis, or have business dealings with him, knowing the extent of his involvement in the hacking scandal--or perhaps, knowing there was any involvement. The PM hired Andy Coulson after a much wider scandal was well known.

The Globe and Mail:

Mr. Stephenson resigned Sunday over his ties to a former News of the World executive editor who has been arrested over the scandal. In his resignation speech Stephenson made pointed reference to Cameron's hiring of Andy Coulson, a former editor of the shuttered tabloid who was arrested earlier this month over hacking.

Mr. Cameron said the situations of the government and the police were “completely different,” because allegations of police corruption “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. Stephenson said he did not make the decision to hire Mr. Wallis and had no knowledge of allegations that he was linked to phone hacking, but he wanted his police force to focus on preparing for the 2012 London Olympics instead of wondering about a possible leadership change.

“I had no knowledge of the extent of this disgraceful practice and the repugnant nature of the selection of victims that is now emerging,” Mr. Stephenson said. “I will not lose any sleep over my personal integrity.”

The Spectator focuses in a bit better here and here.

It seems that British politicians in general sucked up to the Murdoch empire, accepted favours, etc., and senior police do so to some extent as well. But it's beginning to look like no one did so more than David Cameron. Now: an emergency debate in the British Commons. Fun.

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