As the News of the World hacking scandal continues to infect more and more branches of British society and the News Corporation empire, London Metropolitan Police Commissioner Paul Stephenson has announced today that he will step down from his post following criticism for his handling of the ordeal and his links to News Corp.
"Stephenson said he was resigning as commissioner of London's force because of 'speculation and accusations' about his links to Neil Wallis, a former News of the World executive editor, who also worked for the London police as a part-time PR consultant for a year until September 2010. Wallis was arrested last week.
Stephenson said he did not make the decision to hire Wallis and had no knowledge of Wallis's links to phone hacking, but he wanted his police force to focus on preparing for the 2012 London Olympics instead of wondering about a possible leadership change."
With a figure as high up in the British establishment as Stephenson now a casualty of the scandal, some have speculated that it is not so unimaginable that the scandal will end up bringing down the calm and articulate Prime Minister. Publisher of Total Politics Ian Dale:
"I can't believe I am even writing this, but it is no longer an impossibility to imagine this scandal bringing down the Prime Minister or even the government. OK, some of you reading this may think that last sentence is a deranged ranting, and you may be right. Indeed, I hope you are. But Sir Paul Stephenson launched a thinly veiled attack on David Cameron in his resignation statement and the Prime Minister is already on the ropes about the propriety of his relationship with Andy Coulson."
Is it fair at this point to equate the News of the World hacking scandal as the British version of Watergate? Or considering it involves a media giant on three continents, the royal family and the possible hacking of 9/11 survivors, something even bigger?