Arrests and resignations as probe into Britain's phone hacking scandal widens

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Metropolitan Police Service Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson who resigned Sunday.
Image: Southbanksteve.

Further arrests and resignations have occurred related to the News International phone hacking scandal. Rebekah Brooks, former executive with Rupert Murdoch's British newspaper division of News Corporation, was arrested Sunday and released on bail 12 hours later. Her arrest came amid allegations that the News of the World illegally hacked into 4,000 individual cell phones. Brooks resigned from her position on Friday. Hers was the tenth arrest connected to the scandal.

The scandal has now caused two high profile resignations at the Metropolitan Police (Scotland Yard).

On Sunday Sir Paul Stephenson, commissioner of Metropolitan Police Service, resigned from his post, taking responsibility for the agency's failure to investigate all alleged criminal acts by reporters of News of the World and for the implied close relationship between the police and Murdoch's papers. The investigation of the complaints of phone hacking made by the Royal Family in 2006 was never fully pursued. He was also criticized for hiring former deputy editor of the NotW Neil Wallis as a media consultant. Wallis was arrested last week for his part in the scandal.

Assistant commissioner John Yates' resignation followed Stephenson's, after it emerged he had inappropriately fostered the hiring of the daughter of his friend Wallis, and failed to pursue an investigation of the NotW in 2009. Yates labelled this action "a pretty crap one".

Last night, it was reported that Sean Hoare, a whistleblower who worked for former NotW editor Andy Coulson and was the first to allege a high ranking-editor had known about phone hacking at the NotW, was found dead at his home. Police say the death is not categorized as "suspicious" although it is unexplained. The BBC reported that Hoare had suffered from an unspecified illness. He was let go from NotW in 2005 for problems related to substance abuse.

The revelations are the latest in a growing scandal that has so far led to the resignations of a number of News Corporation executives, including Les Hinton, the publisher of the US newspaper The Wall Street Journal, on Friday. The scandal has also led Murdoch to close the NotW and drop his bid to take full control of broadcaster BSkyB. Pressure grew on Murdoch when it was alleged journalists at the NotW had hacked into the phone of missing schoolgirl Milly Dowler, British families of victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and relatives of British soldiers killed in Afghanistan.

David Cameron, the British prime minister, is scheduled to return from his trip to Africa two days early in order to deal with the scandal that has shaken the public's trust in the police, journalists and politicians. Cameron has been under pressure to apologise for his appointment of Coulson—who was arrested two weeks ago—as a media adviser after his resignation as editor of the NotW. Cameron has also been criticized for taking a trip to Africa at this time; a Conservative party member said it seemed as if the prime minister was "fleeing the country".

Rupert Murdoch and his son James, an executive in the Murdoch news empire, and Rebekah Brooks appeared before parliament on Tuesday to answer questions about their knowledge of the phone hacking issues.


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