The ‘Murdochalypse’ could claim David Cameron
First Reaction: Resignation of Britain’s most senior policeman brings the fire closer to Downing Street
The head of the Metropolitan police's resignation last night was the latest dramatic turn in a scandal over phone hacking which continues to engulf Britain's most powerful institutions.
Sir Paul Stephenson said in a statement yesterday that he left the Met with his integrity intact. Yet with the most senior police officer in the land now having fallen on his sword, the key question is 'where will the fire spread next?'
Stephenson's resignation won't be the last. Ken Livingstone, the former Mayor of London, said yesterday that more Met heads would roll: "Those officers that withheld information from Sir
Paul about the scale of phone hacking and the scale of unacceptable relationships between police and News International should go as well."
His views were shared by some in the Labour party. "I always thought the Met & News International were too close," John Prescott wrote on Twitter. "Now we see how close they were. Another green bottle has fallen. More to come." Chris Bryant MP was less candid about who he thought should be next: "Assistant commissioner Yates should also resign."
Stephenson has put Cameron in the firing line. Today's Guardian leader made much of Stephenson's decision to compare his hiring choices with Number 10's recruitment of Andy Coulson: "The point was implicit, but widely understood: 'I'll take responsibility: what about you?' And thus a crisis which, for a long time, was perceived
as a relatively contained issue of journalistic ethics, started lapping at the door of the prime minister himself."
Yvette Cooper, shadow home secretary, also attacked Cameron. "It is striking that Sir Paul has taken responsibility and answered questions about the appointment of the deputy editor of the News of the World," she said, "whereas the prime minister still refuses to recognise his misjudgement and answer questions on the appointment of the editor of the News of the World at the time of the initial phone hacking investigation."
Let's not be distracted – police corruption is serious. "Sir Paul Stephenson's resignation doesn't come close to resolving the difficult questions the police face over their handling of the hacking
business," the Daily Telegraph's Benedict Brogan writes. "The danger is that we allow ourselves to be distracted by a sideshow of name-calling between the now former commissioner and Downing Street, when we should keep the focus on the whiff of corruption in the relations between elements of the Met and NI."
The Independent shared Brogan's appreciation for the seriousness of the allegations. "The charges of misconduct being laid at the door of the Metropolitan Police were always more significant than those imputed to the bosses of News International," the Indy's editorial noted. Unlike journalism, "where nefarious doings are almost part of the warp and woof of a certain kind of muck-raking," police corruption "should worry everyone."
This scandal could topple Cameron. The Mole, The First Post's Westminster insider, said today: "Even his own supporters are beginning to worry that the Prime Minister could be brought down by the hacking scandal because of his close and continuing association with the Murdoch empire."
Tory blogger Ian Dale said: "I can't believe I am even writing this, but it is no longer an impossibility to imagine this scandal bringing down the Prime Minister or even the government… For the first time since 2005, some people are thinking about life after Cameron. And that's not good."
Long-time Tory Toby Young's writes in today's Daily Telegraph: "David Cameron came a step closer to being engulfed by the Murdochalypse yesterday." While mounting a vigorous defence of the PM, he admitted: "I don't rule out the Prime Minister being toppled by this scandal." ·
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