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Published on July 19th, 2011 | by David Christie
Image © [caption id="" align="alignleft" width="226" caption="The phone hacking scandal has severely damaged the Met's reputation"]New Scotland Yard sign[/caption] Metropolitan Police commissioner Paul Stephenson has just resigned.  He was under intense pressure over the revelation that Neil Wallis, the former deputy editor of the News of the World, was employed by the Met as an adviser.  Wallis was arrested on Thursday as part of Operation Weeting (the new investigation into phone hacking), and was employed by the Met during the time when the police decided not to re-open the original phone hacking investigation.  Stephenson was also criticised for having a free stay at the Champneys health spa, which was connected to Wallis: at the time, Wallis was the managing director of a PR firm which was promoting Champneys. There have also been calls for Assistant Commissioner John Yates to resign.  After Yates and other senior officers gave evidence at the home affairs select committee on Tuesday, there is still a sense that the police have not given a full account of the reasoning behing their decisions.  But will the resignation of senior officers draw a line under police behaviour during this scandal?  It is highly unlikely.  Firstly, the officers who accepted payment from News International in exchange for stories have not been charged yet, meaning that there are still unidentified officers in the force who engaged in corrupt behaviour. Secondly, there are questions about current police actions.  Rebekah Brooks' arrest on Sunday makes it unlikely that she will appear before the House of Commons culture select committee on Tuesday with Rupert and James Murdoch.  This is because answering questions at a parliamentary committee could prejudice any current investigation of her behaviour.  On Sunday's edition of Channel 4 News, Labour MP Chris Bryant questioned the timing of her arrest. So even if all the senior officers who were involved with the original phone hacking investigation, or those who are currently known to have links with News International, were to resign, the police would still be viewed with a certain degree of suspicion.  There has been much discussion of this scandal's long-term impact on press regulation, and of how to reform the way that the media is regulated.  Another less-discussed long-term question is that of how to reform the police.

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Paul Stephenson steps down – but will resignations rescue the Met’s reputation?

New Scotland Yard sign

The phone hacking scandal has severely damaged the Met's reputation

Metropolitan Police commissioner Paul Stephenson has just resigned.  He was under intense pressure over the revelation that Neil Wallis, the former deputy editor of the News of the World, was employed by the Met as an adviser.  Wallis was arrested on Thursday as part of Operation Weeting (the new investigation into phone hacking), and was employed by the Met during the time when the police decided not to re-open the original phone hacking investigation.  Stephenson was also criticised for having a free stay at the Champneys health spa, which was connected to Wallis: at the time, Wallis was the managing director of a PR firm which was promoting Champneys.

There have also been calls for Assistant Commissioner John Yates to resign.  After Yates and other senior officers gave evidence at the home affairs select committee on Tuesday, there is still a sense that the police have not given a full account of the reasoning behing their decisions.  But will the resignation of senior officers draw a line under police behaviour during this scandal?  It is highly unlikely.  Firstly, the officers who accepted payment from News International in exchange for stories have not been charged yet, meaning that there are still unidentified officers in the force who engaged in corrupt behaviour.

Secondly, there are questions about current police actions.  Rebekah Brooks’ arrest on Sunday makes it unlikely that she will appear before the House of Commons culture select committee on Tuesday with Rupert and James Murdoch.  This is because answering questions at a parliamentary committee could prejudice any current investigation of her behaviour.  On Sunday’s edition of Channel 4 News, Labour MP Chris Bryant questioned the timing of her arrest.

So even if all the senior officers who were involved with the original phone hacking investigation, or those who are currently known to have links with News International, were to resign, the police would still be viewed with a certain degree of suspicion.  There has been much discussion of this scandal’s long-term impact on press regulation, and of how to reform the way that the media is regulated.  Another less-discussed long-term question is that of how to reform the police.

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