Scandal at News Corp.

Scotland Yard Chief Quits, Murdoch Confidant Brooks Arrested Amid News Corp. Scandal

Phone Hacking Scandal Doesn't Take a Sunday Off

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U.K. Metropolitan Police Chief Paul Stephenson resigned over "accusations" about his force's links to a former News Corp. journalist arrested in connection with a probe into phone-hacking at the News of the World tabloid.

Mr. Stephenson said in a statement today that he informed London Mayor Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Theresa May of his decision to step down. The resignation followed the arrest of Rebekah Brooks, the former top editor of the paper, by several hours.

"I have taken this decision as a consequence of the ongoing speculation and accusations relating to the Met's links with News International at a senior level and in particular in relation to Mr. Neil Wallis who as you know was arrested," Mr. Stephenson said. News International publishes News Corp.'s British titles.

Mr. Wallis, a former editor at News International's News of the World Sunday paper, was arrested July 14 on suspicion of conspiring to intercept phone calls. He had also worked as a paid communications consultant for the police in 2009 and 2010, the police said.

Mr. Stephenson said that if he stayed, the outcome of a public inquiry into the News Corp. phone-hacking would likely "reaffirm my personal integrity." He said he chose to step down to avoid conflicts with preparations for security at the Olympic Games in London next year.

Mr. Stephenson's resignation from the Metropolitan Police, commonly referred to as Scotland Yard, will take effect once a successor has been found. It also follows a report in today's Sunday Times that Mr. Wallis was a media consultant for the Champneys health resort when Mr. Stephenson stayed there earlier this year following surgery on his leg.

"The accommodation and meals were arranged and provided by Stephen Purdew, MD of Champneys, who is a personal family friend who has no connection with, or links to" Mr. Stephenson's professional life, the Met said earlier in a statement. "The commissioner only learnt who the PR consultant for Champneys was following a media enquiry."

Mr. Johnson told the BBC that the police chief felt the story and surrounding inquiries would have been a distraction. "He felt that this whole business with the News of the World -- the nexus between the News of the World and the Met was going to make this very difficult for him," Mr. Johnson said.

-- Bloomberg News --

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