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
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific