Parliament set to be recalled as Cameron’s Coulson links face fresh scrutiny

David Cameron today agreed with Ed Miliband's demand for Parliament to be recalled on Wednesday to discuss phone hacking, as pressure on the police intensified.

David Cameron today agreed with Ed Miliband’s demand for Parliament to be recalled on Wednesday to discuss the phone hacking crisis, which last night saw the resignation of Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson. The prime minister, however, came under renewed pressure to explain himself over the hiring of Andy Coulson, the former News of the World editor arrested over the hacking scandal.

Mr Cameron insisted his appointment of Coulson was different to Sir Paul’s hiring of Neil Wallis, a former NotW deputy editor, telling a press conference in Pretoria this morning:

“The situation in the Metropolitan Police Service is really quite different to that in government, not least because the issues that the Metropolitan Police Service are looking at have had a direct bearing on public confidence in the investigation and the police.”

And later adding:

“There’s a contrast with the situation at the Met Police where clearly the issues have been around whether or not the investigation is being pursued properly. I don’t believe the two situations are the same in any way, shape or form.

“The situation in the Met Police service is really quite different because the issues that the Met Police are looking at have had a direct bearing on the investigation into the News of the World and News International.”

In his resignation statement yesterday, Sir Paul said:

“Let me turn to the reported displeasure of the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary of the relationship with Mr Wallis. At the time [I had] no reason for considering the contractual relationship to be a matter of concern.

“Unlike Mr Coulson, Mr Wallis had not resigned from the News of the World or, to the best of my knowledge, been in any way associated with the original phone hacking investigation.”

The pressure on Sir Paul’s deputy, meanwhile, continues to grow. Assistant Commissioner John Yates will be called back before the home affairs select committee tomorrow, as it emerged today that he was the officer in charge of the ‘due diligence’ process for appointing Wallis, arrested last week in the investigation into phone hacking – he was in charge of doing the background checks.

The Met’s Professional Standards Committee is meeting now in Westminster to discuss Yates’s conduct, and will make a statement at 12:30 announcing whether he will be investigated. Thus far no police officers have been arrested; not one officer has been held accountable for the Met’s lamentable failure to fully investigate the scandal.

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