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
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue