Met press chief reveals 'incestuous' Murdoch ties

Dick Fedorcio tells Leveson Inquiry he let NOTW journalist file story on his computer

The "incestuous" relationship between Scotland Yard and Rupert Murdoch's tabloid newspapers was laid bare at the Leveson Inquiry yesterday.

In deeply embarrassing testimony from the Metropolitan Police's communications chief, Dick Fedorcio, it was revealed that work experience placements were arranged at News International for the teenage son of the former Met commissioner, Sir Ian Blair, with Mr Fedorcio's son also given a valued placement at The Sun.

The inquiry heard that the former NOTW crime reporter, Lucy Panton filed a story from Mr Fedorcio's Scotland Yard office using his personal computer, and that the loan of a police horse to the former NI chief executive, Rebekah Brooks, may have been a well-timed "favour being called in".

A tendering process overseen by Mr Fedorcio which handed the former NOTW deputy editor, Neil Wallis, a lucrative consultancy contract with the Met's press office was also called into question. Mr Fedorcio, who has headed the Met's communications team since 1997, is suspended while an investigation into the hiring of Mr Wallis is carried out. He dismissed a description by the inquiry's leading counsel, Robert Jay QC, that the force's relationship with News International was "incestuous".

During questioning, the Met's communications head revealed that between 2003 and 2008, the now-closed NOTW dominated the scheduled meetings he arranged. During 2003 – when phone hacking was already an established practice inside the NOTW – Mr Fedorcio said The Sun and the NOTW were the only newspapers he visited twice.

He told the inquiry that in December of that year, Andy Coulson, then the Sunday tabloid's editor, sent the public affairs department at the Yard a Christmas hamper. Within weeks of the arrests in 2006 of the NOTW's royal correspondent Clive Goodman, and the tabloid's private investigator, Glenn Mulcaire – both of whom were later jailed over illegal phone hacking – lunches and dinners continued to be arranged by the Met with NOTW executives.

One-to-one meetings between the NOTW and Scotland Yard also continued within weeks of the decision by the Met not to investigate if hacking went beyond Mulcaire and Goodman.

Mr Fedorcio told the inquiry he had never discussed phone hacking with NOTW executives and could not recall having conversations with News International executives about the arrests of Goodman and Mulcaire.

He said it had been an "error of judgment" to allow Ms Panton to use his computer and his private email address to file a story to the NOTW in 2010. The crime reporter sent an "insider's account" of prison life relating to the former Met commander Ali Dizaei. Mr Fedorcio said he was simply helping a friend.

On the "horsegate" affair, Mr Fedorcio insisted the loan of the retired police horse to Ms Brooks in 2007 could have resulted in positive media coverage.

Neil Wallis, was hired by Mr Fedorcio in late 2009, shortly after The Guardian reported that phone hacking at the tabloid had left a trail of victims.

Claiming he needed someone with police and media experience, the inquiry heard how Mr Fedorcio had tried to parachute Mr Wallis into the job. However, the personnel department at the Met insisted on a competitive tendering process.

Two leading PR firms were asked to bid by Mr Fedorcio. They were Bell Pottinger and Hanover. Mr Wallis's Chamy Media company was hired after his bid came in 50 per cent below his rivals.

Lord Justice Leveson said to Mr Fedorcio: "The point is, this was set up to get a result" in Mr Wallis's favour. This was denied.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
peopleMathematician John Nash inspired the film Beautiful Mind
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Life and Style
Audrey Hepburn with Hubert De Givenchy, whose well-cut black tuxedo is a 'timeless look'
fashionIt may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
Life and Style
fashionFrom bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine