British PM Calls for Parliament to Remain Open to Address Phone-Hacking Scandal
The scandal followed David Cameron all the way to South Africa Monday, where he made a statement.
LONDON – British Prime Minister David Cameron called for Parliament’s termto be extended by an extra day before the summer recess to allow him to make a further statement and face down additional questions on the phone hacking scandal swirling around News Corp's U.K. newspaper unit News International.
The scandal followed Cameron all the way to South Africa Monday where he made his call to keep the House of Commons open Wednesday this week so he can deal with the fallout from the shock resignation Sunday evening of Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson.
Cameron also said Wednesday’s Parliament sitting would also be necessary to deal with what will emerge from Rupert Murdoch, James Murdoch and RebekahBrooks’ scheduled grilling before the Parliamentary select committee Tuesday.
Cameron parried myriad questions in the wake of Stephenson’s shock resignation last night in which the U.K.’s top copper said he had taken his decision to quit “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. "Wallis was The News of the World's deputy editor under former No 10 aide Andy Coulson and during the period when it is alleged phone hacking was widespread at the paper.
Hours after Wallis had been arrested in the phone-hacking scandal, it emerged he had worked as a consultant at the Met.
Stephenson went on to set the cat among the political pigeons in his resignation by saying he had not mentioned Wallis's appointment to protect Cameron and draw in Cameron’s relationship with Coulson.
"I did not want to compromise the prime minister in any way by revealing or discussing a potential suspect who clearly had a close relationship with Mr Coulson,” Stephenson said. "I am aware of the many political exchanges in relation to Mr Coulson's previous employment – I believe it would have been extraordinarily clumsy of me to have exposed the prime minister, or by association the home secretary, to any accusation, however unfair, as a consequence of them being in possession of operational information in this regard."
Cameron was asked a slew of questions during a press conference in Pretoria, South Africa, originally staged to promote U.K. business links with the continent.
The Prime Minister said he didn’t think the situation of his hiring Coulson as a political aide was similar “in any shape or form” to the Met taking on Wallis as a consultant.
Cameron said: “I think the situation in Metropolitan Police service is really quite different to the situation in government, not least because the issues that the Metropolitan police service are looking at and the issues around them have had a direct bearing on public confidence into the police inquiry into The News of the World and indeed the police themselves.”Added Cameron: “No one has argued that the work he [Coulson] did in government was inappropriate and bad.”
Last night Rebekah Brooks, the former News International chief executive who resigned from her post Friday, was released from police custody, a full 12 hours after her arrest by detectives investigating allegations of phone hacking and corrupting of police officers by the News of the World.