A classic diversion tactic was used by the Metropolitan Police today when they arrested Rebekah Brooks on allegations of corruption and phone hacking at the same time as letting their own chief resign.
Rebekah Brooks, former News International chief executive
Brooks, alongside Rupert and James Murdoch, is due to give evidence about the hacking scandal to the culture, media and sport Commons committee on Tuesday. At this committee meeting she would inevitably have been questioned about the role of the police and by arresting her, the police have effectively silenced her talking about them and the bribes their officers received.
Brooks, to her credit, states Paul Connew, a former News of the World editor, has shown a willingness to meet with police about this matter since January. Mark Lewis, the lawyer for the Dowler family, adds: “The timing stinks… I think this gives the impression that certain questions can’t be asked… To be arrested two days before a committee attendance… It looks deliberate.”
Even if she still attends the Commons committee meeting, just like the Maxwell brothers back in 1992, Brooks will almost inevitably have to refuse to answer questions.
Sir Paul Stephenson, former Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service
The Metropolitan Police’s intervention today has only served to fuel the flames of this saga. That Brooks’ arrest accompanies Sir Paul Stephenson being forced to resign over his links with a PR man named Neil Wallis, makes it appear even more conveniently timed as a diversionary tactic.
Wallis previously worked for the News of the World and more recently the Metropolitan Police. He has also been arrested in relation to the phone hacking scandal. Today, though, when Stephenson was accused of taking £12,000 of hospitality at Champney’s Health Spa, a resort also represented by Wallis, the Commisioner’s position became untenable. In his resignation speech Stephenson argued that his connection to Wallis “wasn’t a matter of concern.” He concluded that his “integrity was completely intact” and that he won’t be “losing any sleep over” this.
Though Stephenson has done the decent thing in resigning, arresting Rebekah Brooks two days before parliament was due to question her was certainly not the wisest PR move to accompany it.
As one News Coporation executive said this afternoon: “We just don’t know what’s going to happen next.”
For more reaction to the arrest see http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/UK-News/Rebekah-Brooks-Arrest-Reaction-Comes-In-To-Latest-Arrest-By-Appointment/Article/201107316032031?lpos=UK_News_Top_Stories_Header_1&lid=ARTICLE_16032031_Rebekah_Brooks_Arrest%3A_Reaction_Comes_In_To_Latest_Arrest_By_Appointment
For Sir Paul Stephenson’s full statement see http://content.met.police.uk/News/Statement-from-the-Commissioner/1260269279260/1257246741786