A former News of the World executive advised two Scotland Yard officers on their successful applications to become the country's top policeman, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, the Leveson Inquiry heard yesterday.
In a written statement, Neil Wallis said he helped Lord Stevens "throughout" his successful application to become head of Scotland Yard in 2000. Mr Wallis – who ghost-wrote Lord Stevens' £5,000-a-time NOTW column after he retired from the Met in 2005 – had advised him he should portray himself as a "copper's copper" or "thief-taker" in his attempt to become commissioner.
Mr Wallis also helped Sir Paul Stephenson in his successful application to become commissioner in 2009.
Mr Wallis was critical to helping Rupert Murdoch's News International group forge the close relationship with Scotland Yard which some have suggested was the reason it failed for five years to mount a thorough investigation into phone hacking at the News of the World.
After leaving the paper where he was deputy editor in 2009, Mr Wallis's company, Chamy Media, was awarded an annual £24,000 part-time contract to give strategic advice to Scotland Yard's Directorate of Public Affairs.
Scotland Yard admitted his employment – which was during a time it was rejecting calls to open a new inquiry into illicit newsgathering techniques at News International – on the day he was arrested in July last year on suspicion of phone hacking.
Last week, Dick Fedorcio, the Met's director of Public Affairs, resigned before gross misconduct proceedings could begin against him over the awarding of the contract.
In his second written statement to Lord Leveson's inquiry, Mr Wallis wrote: "I advised Lord John Stevens throughout the application process in which he was ultimately successful. "My input in this process was that he would be well advised to emphasise that he was ... a man of action, rather than rhetoric."
In his oral evidence, Mr Wallis strongly rejected suggestions he was seeking to get something out of senior officers such as his friend, John Yates, the Assistant Commissioner who resigned last year, by taking them out for expensive dinners. "John Stevens is an officer who worked for 40-odd years in the police," Mr Wallis said. "The suggestion that this man of integrity, of experience, of immense crime-fighting ability is going to be seduced by me taking him down to Cecconi's – I just can't begin to see where that comes from."
Police chiefs clashed over leaks from cash for honours investigation
A dispute between two Scotland Yard chiefs flared into the open yesterday at the Leveson Inquiry.
John Yates, the former Assistant Commissioner who resigned last year over his handling of the phone-hacking scandal, vigorously denied a claim from his predecessor, Bob Quick, that he tried to frustrate an inquiry into leaks from the controversial "cash for honours" investigation into Tony Blair's government.
In his testimony to Leveson last month, Mr Quick – who resigned in 2009 after a photographer pictured documents about terrorism he was carrying in Downing Street – said Mr Yates resisted an attempt to examine his phone records over the leaks. At the time, in January 2007, Mr Quick, then Chief Constable of Surrey, had been called in to review the cash for honours investigation after a complaint from Britain's top civil servant, Gus O'Donnell, that the police were leaking details to the media. O'Donnell specifically named Yates as the source.
In a written statement to Leveson, published yesterday, Mr Yates said the suggestion he had in some way prevented or obstructed Mr Quick's leak inquiry was "a very damaging allegation and is not true".Reuse content