[Update at end of post]
As if to confirm that those at the centre of power in the UK are enduring a storm of almost Biblical proportions, Phonehackgate claimed another scalp yesterday as Met Police commissioner Paul Stephenson departed. The focus has been on his hiring of former Screws deputy editor Neil “Wolfman” Wallis, but contributory factors such as the attempt to warn off the Guardian, which I covered yesterday, should not be forgotten.
Meanwhile, the twinkle-toed yet domestically combative Rebekah Brooks arrived at a Police station of her choosing to have a chat with the Met, only to find herself nicked and detained, something for which she had rehearsed after her well publicised altercation with former husband Ross Kemp. Brooks, who was finally released late last night, has been identified as a criminal suspect.
So, given the speed at which events are moving, can we expect more arrests and departures in the near future? You betcha, says Sarah. Already being lined up to walk the plank – albeit unwillingly – is assistant Met Commissioner John Yates. London’s occasional Mayor and regular collector of “chicken feed” from the Maily Telegraph, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, has already suggested that Yates should “consider his position”.
Yates’ problem was straightforward: he saw two potential scandals, the Blair “cash for honours” investigation and Phonehackgate, deduced correctly that one of these was going to blow up into a UK version of Watergate, and then picked the wrong one. Thus his over-zealous pursuit of those around Tone, and his fateful decision not to lower himself to opening the Mulcaire bin bag. I expect Yates to walk today.
Who else might be on the way to resignation or arrest? Two men well known to the public and one another are now on the radar: with Brooks arrested and questioned, the next one for a chat with the Met’s finest will be Murdoch Junior. The only unknown is whether or not he gets arrested before the questioning starts. This may be delayed until after he appears with Rupe before the Commons culture committee tomorrow afternoon.
And who is the pal of Junior also in the frame? It’s only a possible for resignation, but Young Dave is, as they say, coming under increased pressure. Stephenson, in his overlong resignation statement, appeared to put the knife in to Cameron when he stated that Wallis had, at least, not had to resign his post at the Screws – unlike Andy Coulson. Dave might not make it to the end of the week.
Which should demonstrate to anyone still unsure about Phonehackgate that this runaway train is beyond anyone’s control, is now careering along at a frightening speed, and will flatten anyone standing in its way. I said it was serious – two years ago.
We live in momentous times.
[UPDATE: AC John Yates has now (1420 hours) tendered his resignation, which has been accepted. He will make a statement later, which may be interesting. Now the focus is on Murdoch Junior]