A FORMER Burnley police officer who was appointed head of the Metropolitan Police in 2009 has stepped down following the phone hacking scandal.
Sir Paul Stephenson, the country’s most senior policeman, who used to live in Cliviger, was criticised for hiring former News of the World executive Mr Neil Wallis as an adviser. Mr Wallis has been questioned by police over the hacking storm.
In a filmed statement Sir Paul (57) said there were lessons to be learned from the affair, but stressed he was leaving with his integrity intact.
He said: “I have taken this decision as a consequence of the ongoing speculation and accusations relating to the Met’s links with News International at a senior level and in particular in relation to Mr Neil Wallis.
“Let me state clearly, I and the people who know me, know that my integrity is completely intact.
“I may wish we had done some things differently, but I will not lose sleep over my personal integrity.”
Former Burnley MP Mr Peter Pike, who knew Sir Paul when he lived in Burnley, said he was not surprised at the Met chief’s decision.
“I knew him quite well, he lived in Cliviger but had to leave when he became chief constable of Lancashire Police.
“He dealt with Burnley at the time of the disturbances. I would’ve liked to see him stay as chief constable because he was a first class chief constable. His briefing to the MPs about the way policing works and on budgeting issues was excellent.
“He is a man of great integrity. On Saturday when I was reading the Guardian I thought he would stand down.
“I think his resignation is a sad loss to policing in this country but I can see why he’s done it, with the Olympics next year. He didn’t want the attention diverted.
“For a senior police officer he was always approachable. It would have been a difficult decision for him to make.”
Sir Paul joined Lancashire Constabulary in 1975 and served as an inspector in Burnley. He was appointed chief constable of the force in July 2002. He also worked for the Royal Ulster Constabulary and Merseyside Police and became Met deputy commissioner in March 2005.
He was awarded the Queen’s Policing Medal for services to policing in May 2000 and received a knighthood in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in June 2008.