PM David Cameron has ordered a special parliamentary session to debate the unfolding phone-hacking scandal, amid a string of arrests and resignations among top media and police officials, and mounting public distrust in the authorities.
The firestorm surrounding Rupert Murdoch’s media empire is claiming more and more casualties, with the latest being the deputy commissioner of London’s Metropolitan Police, John Yates, who resigned on Monday, thus following his former boss Paul Stephenson out of the doors of Scotland Yard.
Last week Yates was called to give evidence before a parliamentary committee, where he said he regretted his 2009 decision not to re-open police inquiries into the phone-hacking. He said that back then he did not believe there was any new evidence to consider.
“I can assure you all that I have never lied and all the information that I’ve provided to this committee has been given in good faith,” Yates told the committee on Tuesday.
The British government announced on Monday that a police inspectorate will look into possible corruption by police and its links with the press.
The latest development in the snowballing scandal comes a day after the commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Paul Stephenson, quit over his links to former News of the World executive editor, Neil Wallis, who was arrested over the scandal last week.
Stephenson claimed he had no knowledge of Wallis’s links to phone-hacking, and said that hiring him as a part-time PR consultant for a year until September 2010 was not his decision.
The wildfire of the unfolding phone-hacking and bribery scandal is now spreading to British politicians. Stephenson stuck the knife into the prime minister, David Cameron, by saying that the PM risked being “compromised” by his closeness to the former News of the World editor Andy Coulson.
The outgoing police chief also said he hadn’t told Cameron about the employment of Neil Wallis as a consultant to the police for fear of compromising him.
David Cameron dismissed Stephenson’s claims on Monday at a press conference in the South African capital Pretoria.
“I would argue in terms of Andy Coulson: no one has argued that the work he did in government in anyway was inappropriate or bad. He worked well in government, he then left government,” he said.
The prime mister has cut short his African trip and ordered a special parliamentary session to debate the unfolding scandal.
Stephenson’s resignation came hours after Rebekah Brooks, the former head of Rupert Murdoch’s UK newspaper group, was arrested over the scandal, bringing investigations right into Murdoch’s inner circle. She was later released on bail after questioning.
Brooks became the 10th and the most influential person to be arrested so far in the scandal.
Rebekah Brooks, Rupert Murdoch and his son James are all due to appear before a parliamentary committee on Tuesday.
British opposition leader Ed Miliband called for a more responsible society on Monday, criticizing David Cameron for refusing to apologize for having hired Neil Wallis.
“We need leadership to get to the truth of what happened but the prime minister is hamstrung by the decisions he made and the refusal to face up to them,” he said.
“We must give MPs the chance to debate the issues arising from the select committee hearing and ensure the prime minister addresses the many unanswered questions that he faces.”