Cameron to Address Parliament in Hacking Scandal; Key Figure Reported Dead
British PM James Cameron delay Parliament's summer recess to address scandal
July 18, 2011— -- Prime Minister David Cameron will cut short an overseas trip to address a special session of Parliament on the News Corp. phone-hacking scandal that has rocked the U.K.'s media, political and law enforcement circles.
Meanwhile, the Guardian reported today that Sean Hoare, a former News of the World reporter who first came forward about the hacking of phones by the Murdoch-owned newspaper to get stories, was found dead in his home. The paper quoted police as saying the death was unexplained, but not suspicious. The BBC reported that Hoare had been ill for some time.
Hoare, who was fired from the paper in 2005, told the New York Times about the phone-hacking allegations at the News of the World, alleging that editor Andy Coulson encouraged his staff to intercept the phone calls of celebrities and others to get scoops.
Cameron announced Monday from South Africa, where he is on a two-day visit, that he would return to Britain in time to address a special session of Parliament on Wednesday. Parliament had been scheduled to recess for the summer Tuesday.
The latest attempt at damage control from Cameron comes just one day after the resignation of Britain's top law enforcement official, Sir Paul Stephenson, and the arrest of Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive of Rupert Murdoch's News International and Cameron's close friend, for suspicion of illegally intercepting phone calls and bribing the police.
Cameron's decision to delay Parliament's recess came just hours before the resignation of Scotland Yard Assistant Commissioner John Yates was announced as well.
A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) said Monday, "Assistant Commissioner John Yates has this afternoon indicated his intention to resign to the Chair of the MPA. This has been accepted."
Yates was one of the Scotland Yard's highest-ranking officials who, in recent days, came under intense pressure to explain why, in July 2009, after UK newspaper The Guardian alleged there were thousands more victims of the News of the World's illegal phone-hacking practice, he did not order a fresh investigation after being asked to review the case.
Brooks, 43, a protégé of media mogul Murdoch who was once the editor of the News of the World, the tabloid that is accused of hacking into the phones of celebrities and victims of murder and terrorism, was arrested and held for 12 hours on Sunday before being released on bail.
Her arrest came after she "voluntarily attended a London police station to assist with their ongoing investigation," according to a statement released on her behalf.
According to her spokesman David Wilson, Brooks' meeting with the police was arranged but she was "not aware she was going to be arrested."
Brooks, Murdoch and his son, James, are scheduled to testify to a parliamentary inquiry into the scandal on Tuesday.
Brooks' lawyer says she will still attend the hearing, despite her arrest, although it remains unclear exactly how many questions Brooks will be able to address now given her legal standing.
Brooks was the tenth person arrested in connection with the News International scandal that erupted two weeks ago. Though at first she refused to resign over the scandal, Brooks finally stepped down Friday from her post as head of Murdoch's British newspaper division.
Brooks, whom Murdoch reportedly considered 'his other daughter,' edited the News of World from 2000 to 2003, when much of the alleged criminal activity took place. She has insisted that she knew nothing about it -- even though it is now alleged the paper's reporters illegally hacked 4,000 people's cell phones in search of scoops.
"There's no way that a reporter can come in with the kind of salacious page one stories that the News of the World was running, without an editor saying 'how'd you get that story? Who was your source?'" Ken Auletta, Media Critic for the New Yorker, told ABC News.
The tabloid, one of Britain's oldest newspapers, was shuttered last week in the wake of the scandal. Allegations have now surfaced that Murdoch's reporters tried to tap the phones of 9/11 victims in search of yet more sensational headlines. This week, the government established a judicial inquiry to look at criminal activity, media ethics, and media ownership.
The dominos continued to fall on Sunday with the resignation of Sir Paul Stephenson, the head of Scotland Yard. Stephenson insisted he had no involvement in his force's failure to investigate alleged widespread criminal acts by Murdoch's journalists, nor the alleged bribery of police officers by reporters.
"I had no knowledge of the extent of this disgraceful practice or indeed the extent of it and the repugnant nature of the selection of victims that is now emerging," Stephenson said in his statement.
A reference to Cameron's hiring of Andy Coulson, a former editor of the News of the World, who was arrested earlier this month, over hacking was made in Stephenson's statement. Cameron is also known to be a close friend of Brooks, and has invited her to stay at Chequers, the country residence of the U.K.'s Prime Minister.
Stephenson's announcement followed the resignation of Murdoch's old friend Les Hinton, who on Friday left his post as publisher of The Wall Street Journal.
Murdoch, meanwhile, has had to do some unprecedented damage control in the wake of the scandal that may just be beginning to unravel.
"I was appalled to find out what had happened and I apologized and I have nothing further to say," said Murdoch.