Met Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson lashed out at Prime Minister Cameron as he resigned from his post last night.
Stephenson had come under increasing pressure to leave his post after it was revealed that he had hired News of the World executive Neil Wallis, as a spin doctor and had accepting a £12,000 free stay at a luxury spa.
The revelations came to light after Wallis was arrested by police investigating the News of the World phone hacking and police bribery claims.
His resignation came just hours after ex-News International chief Rebekah Brooks was arrested.
On quitting Stephenson drew attention to the Prime Minister’s own close ties to Murdoch and his hiring of former News of the World Editor, Andy Coulson
Stephenson defended his actions saying that “Unlike Mr Coulson, Mr Wallis had not resigned from News of the World or, to the best of my knowledge been in any way associated with the original phone hacking investigation.”
He also said the freebie he enjoyed at Champneys spa in Tring, Herts after recovering from an operation had “had absolutely nothing to do with Wallis”.
The Met Commissioner said he believes he will be vindicated by the inquiries.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson paid tribute to Sir Paul's ''outstanding leadership''.
''It is with great sadness and reluctance that I have tonight accepted the resignation of Sir Paul Stephenson as Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service,'' he said.
''I would like to stress that I have absolutely no reason to doubt the complete integrity of Sir Paul and I believe him to be a fine, passionate and committed public servant who has done a huge amount of good for our city.
''Sir Paul believes, however, that the phone-hacking saga now threatens to become a serious distraction during the run-up to the Olympic Games.
''He has persuaded me that someone else should now be allowed to take his work forward so that the focus can return to policing and bringing down crime.
''I should like to pay personal tribute to his outstanding leadership at the Metropolitan Police.''
However Lord Prescott, who had called for Sir Paul to resign was more damning, Tweeting:
''I always thought the Met and News International were too close and now we see how close they were”.
''Another green bottle has fallen – more to come.''
Read Sir Paul Stephenson’s statement below:
“I HAVE this afternoon informed the Palace, Home Secretary and the Mayor of my intention to resign as Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service.
I have taken this decision as a consequence of the speculation relating to the Met’s links with News International and Neil Wallis.
I met Mr Wallis in 2006. I had no knowledge of the original investigation into phone hacking in 2006 that led to the imprisonment of two men. I had no reason to believe this was anything other than a successful investigation. I was unaware there were other documents in our possession.
I have acknowledged the statement by John Yates that if he had known then what he knows now he would have made different decisions.
In 2009 the Met entered into a contractual arrangement with Mr Wallis, terminating in 2010. I played no role in the letting or management of that contract.
I have heard suggestions that we must have suspected the alleged involvement of Mr Wallis in phone hacking. I did not. I had no knowledge of the extent of this practice and the repugnant nature of the selection of victims now emerging.
The contracting of Mr Wallis only became of relevance when his name became linked with the new investigation into phone hacking. I recognise that the interests of transparency might have made earlier disclosure of this information desirable. However my priority has been to maintain the integrity of Operation Weeting. To make it public would have potentially compromised any future Operation Weeting action.
Now let me turn to the reported displeasure of the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary of the relationship with Mr Wallis.
The reasons for not having told them are two-fold. Firstly, I had no reason to consider it a matter of concern.
Secondly, once Mr Wallis’s name was associated with Operation Weeting, I did not want to compromise the Prime Minister by discussing a potential suspect who had a close relationship with Mr Coulson.
Now let me deal with Champneys. There has been no impropriety and I am extremely happy with what I did and the reasons for it – to do everything possible to return to running the Met full time. The attempt to represent this in a negative way is cynical and disappointing.
However, as Commissioner I carry ultimate responsibility for the position we find ourselves in. With hindsight, I wish we had judged some matters involved in this affair differently. I didn’t and that’s it.”