LONDON (Reuters) - Metropolitan Police Commissioner Paul Stephenson resigned on Sunday following criticism of the handling by police of a phone hacking scandal that has rocked British politics and shaken Rupert Murdoch's News Corp <NWSA.O> media empire.

Following are reactions to the news:

LONDON MAYOR BORIS JOHNSON (STATEMENT)

"It is with great sadness and reluctance that I have tonight accepted the resignation of Sir Paul Stephenson as Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service.

"I would like to stress that I have absolutely no reason to doubt the complete integrity of Sir Paul and I believe him to be a fine, passionate and committed public servant who has done a huge amount of good for our city.

"Sir Paul believes, however, that the phone hacking saga now threatens to become a serious distraction during the run up to the Olympic Games.

"He has persuaded me that someone else should now be allowed to take his work forward so that the focus can return to policing and bringing down crime.

"I should like to pay personal tribute to his outstanding leadership at the Metropolitan Police.

"He has helped to bring crime down by nine per cent in three years. He has put more officers on the beat, protected safer neighborhood teams and increased patrols by a million a year on the streets of London.

"It is a mark of his work and determination that crime on public transport has fallen by 30 per cent and that the murder rate is now at its lowest since 1978.

"If there has been any wrongdoing by members of the Metropolitan Police it is vital that this should now be exposed and cleared up in the inquiries under way.

"But it is my strong belief that Sir Paul and the overwhelming majority of police officers have dedicated their careers to the public good and for that we owe him and them our thanks."

CHUKA UMUNNA, Labor MP FOR LONDON SEAT OF STREATHAM (TO

RADIO 5)

"It's quite an extraordinary story. The speed with which this is unfolding is quite unprecedented.

"As a London MP, I think the priority...is that we have police that can command the confidence of the public and secondly that they can get on and do the job with which they are charged."

"The speed and the timing involved with this resignation does contrast quite markedly with the time it took for Rebekah Brooks to resign."

"It is quite refreshing to see someone at that level taking responsibility."

KEITH VAZ, Labor MP, CHAIR OF PARLIAMENT HOME AFFAIRS

SELECT COMMITTEE (TO RADIO 5)

"I am genuinely shocked. As you know the Commissioner was due to appear on Tuesday (before his committee) which I obviously hope we still do and he should do."

"It appears that what he is saying is the reason why he is doing so (resigning) is to preserve his integrity but also to show that, at this particular time, what is needed is leadership for the Met."

"In a week of high drama, every single hour that goes on something else happens in this particular story. He has obviously taken responsibility...and I think he should be given credit for doing so."

(Reporting by Keith Weir; Editing by Jon Boyle)