Update: John Yates, Scotland Yard’s Assistant Commissioner and top counter terrorism officer resigned today. He quit over the scandal at the now defunct News of the World.
The fallout from the News of the World phone hacking scandal is creeping up the corporate food chain and poisoning the careers of those it has touched. With the resignation of the United Kingdom’s Paul Stephenson as Metropolitan Police (Scotland Yard) Commissioner and the likely suspension of one of the Yard’s most senior officers, John Yates, mere association with former editors at the scandal sheet is proving toxic.
Both men had links to Neil Wallis, the former deputy editor of the News of the World who was arrested on suspicion of phone hacking. Paul Stephenson employed Wallis as a PR adviser. John Yates, who is Assistant Commissioner and is in charge of Scotland Yard’s anti-terror unit, is reported to be the official “tasked with carrying out due diligence before the Yard awarded a contract to the firm” operated by Mr Wallis.
Moreover, John Yates is the senior police officer who twice made the decision not to reopen the inquiry into the telephone hacking.
It’s cannot be lost on opposition MPs that Paul Stephenson has resigned over his involvement with the appointment of the deputy editor of the News of the World, Neil Wallis, whereas Prime Minister David Cameron still refuses to recognize his misjudgment in the appointment of the editor of the News of the World, Andy Coulson, at the time of the initial phone hacking investigation.
Surely a growing number of people are wondering why different rules apply for the Prime Minister and Scotland Yard, especially when, as Mr. Stephenson said himself, unlike Andy Coulson, Neil Wallis had not been forced to resign from the News of the World.
Mr. Coulson resigned as the editor of the News of the World in 2007, following the conviction of one of his reporters in relation to illegal phone-hacking. In other words, the hacking occurred on his watch. He then joined David Cameron’s staff as communications director. After David Cameron became prime minister in May 2010, he appointed Coulson as Director of Communications for the government, a position he relinquished in January 2011 when his involvement in the phone-hacking affair became the focus of media speculation and allegations.
So, was PM Cameron too close to those who are up to their necks in this tawdry and illegal affair? It seems clear to me he was. It’s only speculation on my part, of course, but similar speculation by those in positions of authority should help to intensify scrutiny on the all too cozy relationship between the U.K.’s politicians and its media, especially the press. And that’s a good thing.