Neil Wallis, Andy Coulson’s deputy, once cleared of suspicion, faces hacking charges

Neil Wallis, the deputy editor of NOTW, dismisses the investigation into him as vindictive

Investigations Reporter

The former News of the World deputy editor with historic links to the highest echelons of Scotland Yard has been charged with phone-hacking offences.

Neil Wallis, the veteran tabloid newspaper executive who was initially cleared of wrongdoing after he spent 19 months on bail between 2011 and 2013, is now alleged to be part of a phone-hacking conspiracy with others at the defunct Sunday tabloid, including the former editor Andy Coulson.

The 64-year-old, who worked as a personal adviser to two former Metropolitan Police Commissioners and told the Leveson Inquiry he was a “good friend” of the former police chief John Yates, was charged along with the newspaper’s former features editor Jules Stenson.

The Crown Prosecution Service announced the charges from Operation Pinetree, a spin-off from the original Operation Weeting investigation that culminated in an eight-month trial and the conviction of Coulson, David Cameron’s former director of communications.

The final edition of the News of the World newspaper (Getty) The final edition of the News of the World newspaper (Getty)
In a statement released yesterday, Mr Wallis branded the charge as “vindictive”. He said: “I am devastated that more than three years after my initial arrest, this has been brought against me. My family and I have already paid a huge price from the police’s very public attention.

“Perhaps it is inevitable that after being such an outspoken critic of the collateral damage and pain caused by this endlessly vindictive and enormously costly investigation the ire has been turned on me for something that occurred at News International which I was not party to and have always said was wrong.”

The CPS charges allege that Mr Wallis and Mr Stenson conspired to hack phones with Coulson and others who were convicted in the Weeting trial last month, including news editors Greg Miskiw, James Weatherup, Neville Thurlbeck, and the private detective Glenn Mulcaire.

 

Nicknamed “Wolfman”, Mr Wallis was originally arrested in July 2011, days after the News of the World closed, following allegations that it may have hacked the phone of the murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.

Last February, the Crown Prosecution Service decided that there was not enough evidence and released him without charge. Mr Wallis said at the time: “I lost my job, and my family went through hell.”

Mr Wallis rose up through the ranks at The Sun before becoming editor of The People and, latterly, deputy editor of the News of the World under Andy Coulson. He maintained close links with many senior officers and admitted personally advising Lord Stevens when he successfully applied for the role of Met Commissioner in 2000.

Following the conclusion of the Weeting trial last month, Mr Wallis appeared on Question Time where he denied allegations he “must have known” about phone hacking. Mr Wallis and Mr Stenson will appear before Westminster magistrates’ court on 21 August.

Neil Wallis and the Met

Lord Stevens, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police 

Between 2000 and 2005 Later became a News of the World columnist on £7,000-a-week, ghost-written by Mr Wallis. They dined out around six times a year. Mr Wallis told the Leveson Inquiry that he advised Lord Stevens throughout the “application and interview process” for the job of Commissioner.

Former Met Police Assistant Commissioner John Yates

Became a “good friend” of Mr Wallis, and they attended football matches together.  Mr Yates resigned at the height of the phone-hacking scandal amid claims he played an inappropriate role in securing a job at the Met for the daughter of Mr Wallis. He denied this and said his “conscience was clear”. Mr Yates was also criticised for failing to re-open phone-hacking investigation in 2009.

Sir Paul Stephenson, former Met Commissioner

Also resigned in 2011 over his links with Mr Wallis. When he left the News of the World Mr Wallis was employed as Sir Paul’s media adviser between 2009 and 2010 and was paid £24,000.

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