John Yates to be suspended, say reports

The assistant commissioner to be suspended pending an investigation into phone hacking and ties to N

One top figure at the Metropolitan police has already been sacrificed to the phone hacking scandal, with commisioner Sir Paul Stephenson's resignation. Now, it looks like the future of assistant commissioner John Yates is hanging in the balance, too.

The Metropolitan Police Authority's (MPA) professional standards is currently meeting to discuss Yates's handling of the phone hacking crisis. Also under discussion will be his links with Neil Wallis, the former News of the World executive whose employment with the Metropolitan Police ledStephenson to resign yesterday.

The committee does not have the power to dismiss Yates, but it can call for further investigation.

Boris Johnson has called an emergency press conference for 2pm. According to the Daily Telegraph, the mayor will announce that Yates is to be suspended, pending an investigation over his role in phone hacking and his relationship with Wallis. The newspaper quotes a source as saying: "If an investigation is ongoing he cannot stay in his job."

This follows increasing pressure on Yates to step down. Several people have now called for his resignation, including John Prescott, an independent member of the MPA, and a London Assembly member. However, the signs are that Yates, who twice decided not to reopen the inquiry into telephone hacking, will not resign of his own accord. Last week, when Keith Vaz asked if he was considering his position, he said:

No, I haven't. And if you're suggesting that I should resign for what News of the World has done and my very small part in it, I think that's probably unfair.

The last week has not shaken this, clearly, as he told Sky News this morning: "I've done nothing wrong". Sources say that he does not plan to step down unless the judge-led inquiry finds him guilty of wrong-doing.

It remains to be seen whether he will review this standpoint as the pressure increases.

Samira Shackle is a freelance journalist, who tweets @samirashackle. She was formerly a staff writer for the New Statesman.

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The buck doesn't stop with Grant Shapps - and probably shouldn't stop with Lord Feldman, either

The question of "who knew what, and when?" shouldn't stop with the Conservative peer.

If Grant Shapps’ enforced resignation as a minister was intended to draw a line under the Mark Clarke affair, it has had the reverse effect. Attention is now shifting to Lord Feldman, who was joint chair during Shapps’  tenure at the top of CCHQ.  It is not just the allegations of sexual harrassment, bullying, and extortion against Mark Clarke, but the question of who knew what, and when.

Although Shapps’ resignation letter says that “the buck” stops with him, his allies are privately furious at his de facto sacking, and they are pointing the finger at Feldman. They point out that not only was Feldman the senior partner on paper, but when the rewards for the unexpected election victory were handed out, it was Feldman who was held up as the key man, while Shapps was given what they see as a relatively lowly position in the Department for International Development.  Yet Feldman is still in post while Shapps was effectively forced out by David Cameron. Once again, says one, “the PM’s mates are protected, the rest of us shafted”.

As Simon Walters reports in this morning’s Mail on Sunday, the focus is turning onto Feldman, while Paul Goodman, the editor of the influential grassroots website ConservativeHome has piled further pressure on the peer by calling for him to go.

But even Feldman’s resignation is unlikely to be the end of the matter. Although the scope of the allegations against Clarke were unknown to many, questions about his behaviour were widespread, and fears about the conduct of elections in the party’s youth wing are also longstanding. Shortly after the 2010 election, Conservative student activists told me they’d cheered when Sadiq Khan defeated Clarke in Tooting, while a group of Conservative staffers were said to be part of the “Six per cent club” – they wanted a swing big enough for a Tory majority, but too small for Clarke to win his seat. The viciousness of Conservative Future’s internal elections is sufficiently well-known, meanwhile, to be a repeated refrain among defenders of the notoriously opaque democratic process in Labour Students, with supporters of a one member one vote system asked if they would risk elections as vicious as those in their Tory equivalent.

Just as it seems unlikely that Feldman remained ignorant of allegations against Clarke if Shapps knew, it feels untenable to argue that Clarke’s defeat could be cheered by both student Conservatives and Tory staffers and the unpleasantness of the party’s internal election sufficiently well-known by its opponents, without coming across the desk of Conservative politicians above even the chair of CCHQ’s paygrade.

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog.