Tuesday, 19 July 2011

OMFGate: Call The Police!

Interesting testimony today from recently-resigned Metropolitan Chief Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson. He's just given evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee on the phone hacking scandle and his professional relationship with Neil Wallis, the former NOTW executive employed last year as an adviser to Scotland Yard's senior officers.

The top bobby said he much regretted the fact Wallis had been hired by the Met. Perfectly believable. But he also said: "I had no reason to connect Wallis with phone hacking, I had no reason to doubt his propriety; nothing had come to my attention." The real message: my people failed to alert me to any sensitivity surrounding Wallis.

Stephenson also told MPs he'd been advised by a senior Downing Street official not to risk compromising David Ca
meron by disclosing to him information about the phone-hacking scandal. He said he was unable to name the No.10 aide but his number two, Assistant Commissioner John Yates, who's also just resigned, would definitely know. Yates is the man who threatened to sue the Guardian after the newspaper originally broke the hacking story. Let's hope that as he leaves the Commons the Chief Commissioner doesn't fall down the stairs.

Meanwhile, today's appearance of the Murdochs and Head Cowbag before the Commons media select committee may prove something of an anti-climax, if cathartic. Having had days to prepare, they'll get through it; they're hardly li
kely to notify the committee of anything which could subsequently incriminate them. Rather than trying to tease out the truth through such enquiries, it might be more effective simply to let their loathsome empire whither under the furious heat of continuing public revulsion, before the judge-led drains-up swings into action.

In other news, yesterday former NOTW reporter Sean Hoare was found dead at his home. Hoare was the first named journalist to allege that the paper's one-time editor Andy Coulson had known about the tabloid's hacking. But the police have said his death isn't suspicious, so that's the end of the matter. It's good to have the case solved so quickly; at least there won't be a long investigation eating into the police's reduced resources, recently cut again following the NOTW's closure. But on the other hand, think of the surprise savings on senior officers' salaries.

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