Police Playing Politics Again

Sir Paul Stephenson made the right decision last night to resign and take responsibility for his force’s mistakes and, at least as importantly, his own mistakes as Metropolitan Police Commissioner.

Listen to Mark Reckless on Westminster Hour – Click Here

Unfortunately, he tarred his resignation with a nakedly political statement which distracts attention from what I believe is the real reason for Sir Paul’s resignation.

We had hoped that Scotland Yard had left behind the appearance of party political involvement with the resignation of Sir Paul’s predecessor, Ian Blair, whom I helped question last Tuesday only to be told that he was far too important to be aware of alleged industrial scale phone hacking at the News of the World.

Sir Paul though appears to have gone, not by telling the country why he really needed to resign, but by launching a transparent personal attack on Prime Minister David Cameron.

Sir Paul’s suggestion that he kept his appointment of Neil Wallis as a PR adviser secret to avoid giving the Prime Minister sensitive operational information is simply ridiculous. Why did he not just disclose his contract on the Metropolitan Police website – as he should have done when Mr Wallis was first appointed?        

Keith Vaz, who chairs the Home Affairs Select Committee on which I serve, has rightly noted that Sir Paul’s resignation statement does not disclose the real reason for his resignation, saying:

“It is a very brave decision, and I’m shocked by it, actually, because I don’t think there’s anything in the statement in particular that points to any wrongdoing or inappropriateness on the part of the commissioner.”

Keith Vaz did, however, read out a statement last Tuesday which I believe is the real reason for Sir Paul’s resignation, and about which Sir Paul must have known our committee was likely to question him this Tuesday.

That was what Sir Paul said when he was at an ACPO conference in July 2009 and the Guardian published new evidence concerning the scale of phone hacking at the News of the World. When asking John Yates to look into the issue again in light of that evidence, Sir Paul concluded by indicating that he expected it to be dealt with so that a statement could be made later that day.

It seems therefore that the decision to spend little more than eight hours in July 2009 reconsidering evidence of phone hacking, and the failure to review the eleven thousand pages of material which the Met then had from Mulcaire, can be traced to the very top of the Metropolitan Police.

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5 Comments

Filed under ACPO, conservatives, david cameron, Home Affairs Select Committee, keith vaz, mark reckless, police, Policing, rochester and strood

5 responses to “Police Playing Politics Again

  1. m wood

    Everyone seems to have forgotten that Stephenson shouldn’t have accepted £12000 of hospitality that was linked to Wallis. Wasn’t that the real reason for his resignation? His attempt to smear Dave Cameron is a distraction from that.

  2. I was unaware that the Commissioner had placed a time limit on John Yates enquiry. This may well explain why Mr Yates did not explain himself before your Committee last week as he could hardly criticise his boss.

    Whilst it may have not any breached contract of employment and registered in an internal hospitality register, it was quite wrong of the Commissioner to accept a £12,000 “freebie”. I am quite sure he knows this will be viewed with dismay by the public.

    Can I also add a comment about the Committee last week which you may not wish to know. I thought the conduct of some members was appalling. Witnesses were interrupted, bullied and laughed at. This is addition to the giggles coming from the audience. I thought at the time that the witnesses would have been better appearing in a court when at least they would have been treated with respect and had the protection of lawyers and proceedings ably controlled by a judge. Neither is it the way to obtain information by putting people on the defensive, The last time I recall members of a Committee behaving this way was when Dr Kelly was in attendance. The Committee’s of the House serve an important role in our democracy and this should be paramount rather than grandstanding by some members.

  3. Anna Morell

    Agreed in part Jane, although when you have someone as senior as Andy Hayman denying the receipt of bungs with a line like “Good God! Absolutely not! I can’t believe you asked me that!” with all the believable subtlety of a pantomime actor, the Committee has done very well thus far in not needing its sides actually sewn up from its members guffawing themselves half to death.

  4. Dave

    I agree entirely with both M Wood and Anna Morell.
    To go off at a slight tangent, how can the questionable Met be allowed to examine itself? It’s like asking Sydney Cooke to investigate paedophilia.
    Wouldn’t it be better if another force carried-out the investigation?

  5. Jim

    This didn’t come as any great surprise, we know the public services are riddled with Labours placemen. I must echo what Dave has said, why are the Met being allowed to investigate themselves? surely this is a job for an outside force?

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