The Met's chief of spin faces difficult questions

 

As the man responsible for promoting the public image of the Metropolitan Police, the slew of negative headlines in the last 48 hours will not have been comfortable for Dick Fedorcio. But after 14 years of working behind the scenes as Scotland Yard's chief spin doctor, he now finds himself in the limelight with some difficult questions to answer.

Mr Fedorcio, who will appear before the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee today to answer questions about his role in the Yard's handling of the phone-hacking inquiry and its relations with News International, played a central part in the hiring of the former News of the World deputy editor Neil Wallis as a public-relations consultant between October 2009 and September 2010.

As the Met's director of public affairs, Mr Fedorcio approved the decision to award two six-month contracts to Mr Wallis's company Chamy Media, despite knowing that the former NOTW executive would have been a key figure at the defunct Sunday paper at the height of a period when it is claimed that large-scale voicemail eavesdropping was going on.

The Independent has obtained a document that shows Mr Fedorcio's department also agreed in principle a third six-month contract on 1 September 2010 – the same day that The New York Times published an article outlining new allegations that there was widespread knowledge of phone hacking at the NOTW.

The document shows that Mr Wallis, who maintained close links with his former employers at News International while he was employed at the Yard, it is claimed, was then offered the contract only for the former tabloid executive to turn it down six days later.

Avuncular and assured, Mr Fedorcio is a familiar figure to Fleet Street journalists who deal with the Yard on a daily basis over its bread-and-butter business of fighting crime. It is in this role as the liaison man between newspapers and senior officers, including the four Metropolitan Police Commissioners he has now worked for, that the PR man attended seven meals with NOTW executives, including Mr Wallis, during the time that the paper was under investigation or the subject of continuing allegations.

One of those meals took place in April 2006 when Mr Fedorcio and the former Assistant Commissioner Andy Hayman, who was in charge of the first hacking inquiry, met Mr Wallis for dinner at the Soho House private members' club. The Yard yesterday insisted it was "standard, professional practice" for the Yard's head of media to accompany senior officers to meetings with journalists. But critics insist the rules should have been different for encounters with the NOTW. Chris Bryant, an MP who was targeted by the paper, said: "A judge sitting in a court case on the newspaper would not be dining with its editors and I don't see why members of Scotland Yard should have done either."

Mr Fedorcio has been valued as a safe pair of hands in a crisis. He helped to steer Sir Paul Condon through the crisis created by the murder of the black teenager Stephen Lawrence.

But like Sir Paul Stephenson and Assistant Commissioner John Yates, both of whom have now resigned over the phone-hacking scandal, Mr Fedorcio is facing claims that he did not fully appreciate the damage being caused to the Yard by the saga.

Mr Fedorcio said last night that he was unable to comment on the row over Mr Wallis's employment because of his appearance before MPs. The Yard has said that Mr Wallis had no input into operational decisions about the phone-hacking investigation.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
tech
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
life
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions