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March 29, 2012 12:10 pm
Scotland Yard’s director of public affairs has resigned after hearing he would face gross misconduct allegations for hiring a News of the World executive as a PR adviser while concerns over phone hacking were still high.
Dick Fedorcio had been on extended leave from the Metropolitan Police since August, after revelations that Neil Wallis, a former deputy editor of the Sunday tabloid, had been given a contract by the Met’s communications directorate in 2009.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission said yesterday [on Thursday] that its investigation found that Mr Fedorcio “had a case to answer” in relation to his procurement of the former News of the World executive. Mr Wallis was arrested and questioned in July after Scotland Yard reopened its inquiry into phone hacking but he has not been charged.
Scotland Yard decided to begin gross misconduct proceedings against its communications chief after it saw the results of the IPCC inquiry, which was completed in January. Now that Mr Fedorcio has resigned the Met’s own action will not be taken forward but the watchdog will publish its full investigation “in the next few days”.
Deborah Glass, deputy chair of the IPCC, said the investigation focused on “the circumstances under which a contract for senior level media advice and support was awarded to Mr Wallis’s company, Chamy Media”.
Mr Wallis’s contract at Scotland Yard contributed last summer to the resignations of Sir Paul Stephenson, the commissioner, and John Yates, the head of counterterrorism. Mr Yates became embroiled in the controversy after it emerged that he was good friends with Mr Wallis.
In evidence to the Leveson inquiry this month, Mr Fedorcio said he might not have hired Mr Wallis if he had known about his close relationship with Mr Yates.
The inquiry also heard that Mr Wallis offered to be a PR adviser for the Met press office over lunch with Mr Fedorcio in August 2009.
Appearing at the inquiry yesterday [on Thursday], Kit Malthouse, London’s deputy mayor, in charge of policing, said he had questioned the Met on whether it had allocated too many resources to the three phone-hacking investigations.
Mr Malthouse said he supported the police enquiries but was concerned about “balancing resources” between the investigation and “very serious and heinous crimes”. The deputy mayor also confirmed that there were now 150 police officers working on phone hacking, and this is forecast to rise to 200 next year. This was equivalent to eight murder squads and would cost around £40m, Mr Malthouse said.
Sir Paul Stephenson, the former Met chief, told the inquiry this month that Mr Malthouse had complained several times in early 2011 that the reopened hacking investigation was over-resourced and largely driven by “media hysteria”.
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