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18 July 2011

John Yates to be suspended, say reports

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

By Samira Shackle

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.”

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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.