London: The ongoing phone-hacking scandal has claimed Britain's top cop, Sir Paul Stephenson, who was increasingly dragged into the controversy over accepting the hospitality of a former ‘News of the World’ journalist.

Stephenson has faced criticism for hiring former News of the World executive Neil Wallis, who was questioned by police investigating hacking, as his personal adviser. Wallis was arrested last week.

Ex-News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks was, meanwhile, released on bail after being held for 12 hours over suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications.

"I have informed the Home Secretary and the Mayor of my intention to resign as Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service," Stephenson said in a statement.

He was linked to Wallis in reports which said he had a five-week stay earlier this year at a luxury health spa where former News of the World deputy editor worked as a public
relations consultant.

The Metropolitan police have faced strong criticism from ministers and MPs for failing to get to the bottom of the phone-hacking scandal while conducting two earlier inquiries
into the issue.

Rupert Murdoch's embattled group has publicly apologised twice during the weekend, promising to make amends in the aftermath of the phone hacking scandal. The company
printed apologies in national newspapers on Saturday and Sunday for the wrongdoings and unethical practices adopted by journalists of the now closed News of the World.

Stephenson 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".

He said there were lessons to be learned from the affair and insisted he had committed no impropriety.

He added, "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."

Stephenson is scheduled to appear before the Home Affairs Select Committee of the House of Commons on Tuesday.

Stephenson was lauded for his contribution to Scotland Yard as police commissioner, but ministers, MPs and the London mayor Boris Johnson said they understood the reasons for his resignation.

Downing Street sources have denied that Stephenson was forced to resign, BBC reported.

"He was not pushed," said a source.

(Agencies)