19 Jul 2011

Met’s PR boss knew of Yates’ friendship with Wallis

Dick Fedorcio says he approached John Yates to carry out “due diligence” on former NoW executive Neil Wallis – a claim which Mr Yates denied in his evidence.

Giving evidence before the Commons Home Affair Select Committee, the Metropolitan Police’s Head of Public Affairs for the last 14 years defended his decision to hire Neil Wallis, a decision that contributed to the resignations of Assistant Commissioner John Yates and Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson.

Mr Fedorcio said he awarded Neil Wallis a £24,000 contract for his two day per week consultancy work because he was the “cheapest” option out of three bids.

He said he was aware of Mr Yates’ friendship with Mr Wallis, and denied that Mr Yates’ proximity to the phone hacking case compromised his judgement.

“I spoke to him (Mr Yates) about it specifically because of his involvement in phone-hacking,” he said.

“I knew he was a friend – I didn’t know back to 1998. I knew he had contact with Mr Wallis, I couldn’t say he was a close friend, but I knew he was a friend,” he said.

Asked whether, if he had known now what he knew then, he would have still appointed Mr Wallis, Mr Fedorcio replied: “Certainly not.”

Read more: Yates of the Yard resigns

But in the following session John Yates denied he was responsible for due diligence on Mr Wallis, saying that was “slightly over-egging the pudding.”

“I sought assurances off Mr Wallis before the contract was let to the effect … is there anything in the matters that (the Guardian’s) Nick Davies is still chasing and still reporting on that could at any stage embarrass you Mr Wallis, me, the Commissioner, or the Metropolitan Police?”

“I received categorical assurances that was the case. That’s not due diligence – due diligence is in the proper letting of a contract.

“I had absolutely nothing to do with that, I had nothing to do with the tendering process, that was a matter for Mr Fedorcio.”

Mr Fedorcio’s appearance comes after he was referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission over his relationship with Neil Wallis, his force said today.

The Metropolitan Police said in a statement: “The context of this referral is in connection with the ongoing high-level public interest in the relationship between News International and the MPS and, in particular, the relationship between Neil Wallis and Mr Fedorcio and the circumstances under which the contract was awarded to Chamy Media.”

Chamy Media is Mr Wallis’s media consultancy firm.

Sir Paul Stephenson, John Yates, former Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke, and former Assistant Commissioner Andy Hayman, will also be investigated by the IPCC.