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Second top UK police officer resigns in phone-hacking scandal

The phone-hacking scandal in the UK has widened, with a second senior British police officer resigning amid mounting pressure over the London Metropolitan Police's links to the former News of the World tabloid.

newspaper in rack

The News of The World closed in the wake of the scandal

The fallout from the News of the World scandal widened Monday as senior British police officer John Yates resigned over his role in a phone-hacking probe into the now-defunct Sunday tabloid.

In 2009, Yates, an assistant commissioner with London's Metropolitan Police Authority, refused to re-open an investigation into alleged phone hacking by reporters at the News of the World, saying there was no reason to do so.

Yates' resignation came a day after Paul Stephenson stepped down from his position as Metropolitan police commissioner amid reports that he was linked to former News of the World deputy editor Neil Wallis, who was arrested last week on suspicion of phone hacking during his time at the tabloid.

David Cameron

Cameron called for an emergency session of parliament

Stephenson allegedly accepted a five-week stay at a luxury hotel early this year where Wallis was a public relations consultant.

"I have taken this decision as a consequence of the ongoing speculation and accusations relating to Met's [Metropolitan police] links with News International at a senior level," Stephenson said.

Whistleblower found dead

In a further twist to the deepening scandal, former News of the World reporter and whistleblower Sean Hoare was found dead at his home on Monday.

Hoare had alleged in interviews with the New York Times and the BBC that the newspaper’s former editor Andy Coulson, who subsequently became press chief of British Prime Minister David Cameron, knew about the scandal.

Police said that the death of the 47-year-old was being treated as unexplained, although it was not thought to be suspicious.

Earlier Monday, former News International CEO Rebekah Brooks was released on bail, a day after she was arrested in connection with corruption allegations during her tenure as the chief executive of the British newspaper arm of media mogul Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation.

Brooks, who announced her resignation on Friday, has become the focus of outrage over the phone-hacking scandal at News International, which led to the shutdown of the News of the World on July 10.

Cameron under fire

The phone-hacking scandal overshadowed the British Prime Minister's first tour of Africa on Monday. It was originally scheduled to last five days, but has now been shortened.

Cameron also announced that he would delay parliament's summer break, which is due to begin on Tuesday, for a day to deal with the crisis.

"I am asking for parliament to sit an extra day on Wednesday so I can make a new statement adding to the details of the judicial inquiry," he said.

Cameron has also come under increasing pressure over his connections with former News of the World editor Andy Coulson, who has also been arrested. Coulson served as Cameron's press secretary after quitting the paper in 2007 following the jailing of a reporter for phone hacking. Coulson left his job as Cameron's media chief in January.

Rupert Murdoch

Murdoch was eager to smooth things over with an outraged public

Reporters from News of the World are accused of hacking the mobile phones of crime victims, celebrities and politicians, as well as paying police for information.

Not over yet

On Sunday, Murdoch faced calls for the break-up of his British empire, despite issuing a second public apology.

Labour leader Ed Miliband has called for new ownership laws in the wake of the scandal. Miliband told The Observer newspaper that British politicians needed to take a closer look at how Murdoch was able to own more than 20 percent of the newspaper market in addition to holding a large stake in satellite television.

Author: Dagmar Breitenbach, Spencer Kimball (Reuters, dpa, AFP)
Editor: Martin Kuebler

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