Now Murdoch phone hacking scandal brings down top cop Stephenson – will James Murdoch and PM David Cameron be next?

Well it seems an extraordinary idea doesn’t it? UK PM David Cameron being forced to resign over the Murdoch newspapers phone hacking scandal. But don’t rule it out.

Tonight Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson (pictured) stunned just about everybody by resigning over a cocktail of issues including his investigation of the phone hacking scandal, his decision to employ Neil ‘Wolfman’ Wallis (former deputy to Andy Coulson) as a PR adviser and his unwise acceptance of a £12,000 freebie from health farm Champneys when recovering from an operation (Champneys was one of Wolfman’s clients).

So far in this bizarre imbroglio there hasn’t been a Murdoch head on a platter although there might well be by Tuesday when James Murdoch, along with dad Rupert, faces a Parliamentary select committee. James has to justify paying kiss and tell PR man Max Clifford £1m and PFA boss Gordon Taylor £700,000 to prevent them suing the News of the World for phone hacking, even though he has subsequently claimed that he wasn’t in possession of all the facts at the time.

This looks untenable for a senior officer of a company (James is deputy COO of News Corporation, chairman of BSkyB and head of News Corp’s international operations).

And UK PM Cameron? Well Sunday Times columnist Jeremy Clarkson tried to do his friends and weekend neighbours Rebekah Brooks and David Cameron a favour today by writing that they only discussed jolly walks in the woods and the like when they met regularly socially.

But Brooks, who resigned on Friday as CEO of News International, shortly to be followed by her one-time boss Les Hinton, was arrested by police investigating phone hacking today.

The good news for Brooks is that this means she won’t have to attend the Parliamentary hearing on Tuesday (unless her lawyers have completely lost their marbles); the bad news is just about everything else.

But Cameron, as is clear from Jeremy Clarkson’s helpful piece, is astonishingly matey with Brooks and other posh Oxfordshire neighbours like Elizabeth Murdoch and her husband PR maven Matthew Freud.

Add this to his employment of disgraced former NoW editor Andy Coulson (also arrested over the phone hacking scandal) as the Government’s director of communications and you appear to have either a prima facie case of a man with no judgement or someone who thinks they can ignore things that would make any sensible politician run a mile.

Cameron will probably survive for now, until the next stream of revelations.

As for the Murdochs they are surely toast as far as News Corporation is concerned. News Corporations shares are divided into two classes and the Murdochs control nearly 40 per cent of the higher-voting ‘B’ shares.

But the shares have tanked since it emerged that the NoW hacked into murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler’s phone just over a week ago and they’re set to take another big tumble on Monday.

Expect to see current COO Chase Carey elevated to CEO in place of Rupert Murdoch next week and the chances of James Murdoch, or indeed any other Murdoch, ever taking over as leader of the company evaporate.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.