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Sir Paul Stephenson, Dick Fedorcio, the Met Police and the News of the World

by Joseph W

Rebekah Brooks on paying the police:

Head of PR at the Met Police Dick Fedorcio:

Sir Paul Stephenson on the need for a public inquiry into the police investigation into the NoTW scandal:

Paul Stephenson in the Evening Standard yesterday:

In a statement Sir Paul said: “Our initial assessment shows that these documents include information relating to alleged inappropriate payments to a small number of Metropolitan Police officers.”

He said that there was no evidence that any senior officers were in receipt of payments. Sir Paul said the new Operation Elveden inquiry would be “thorough and robust” and run in parallel with the Operation Weeting investigation into phone hacking.

He added: “Anyone identified of wrongdoing can expect the full weight of disciplinary measures and if appropriate action through the criminal courts.”

The New York Times reports:

On Wednesday, a Labour member of Parliament made another startling assertion: that while Ms. Brooks was the News of the World editor, she was confronted with evidence that the paper was using unlawful means to interrupt a murder investigation whose two main suspects had ties to the paper.

The member, Tom Watson, said that senior Scotland Yard officials met with Ms. Brooks in 2002 to alert her of evidence that members of her staff were “guilty of interference and party to using unlawful means to attempt to discredit a police officer and his wife,” so that the officer would be unable to complete a murder investigation. Mr. Watson said the police officials named a senior News of the World executive, Alex Muranchak.

On Thursday, The Guardian reported that Mr. Muranchak had apparently agreed to allow the two murder suspects in the case  to use photographers and vans leased to the paper to spy on Detective Chief Superintendent David Cook, the lead detective.

The two men, private investigators named Jonathan Rees and Sid Fillery, were suspected of murdering their former partner, Daniel Morgan, who had been killed 15 years earlier. Their singling out of Mr. Cook included following him, his wife, and their children, trying to gain access to his and his wife’s voice mail and obtaining personal details about him from police databases.

Those details were found in the notes of Glenn Mulcaire, an investigator working for The News of the World whose notebooks were seized by the police and have formed the basis for much of the current criminal investigation into phone hacking.

The Guardian reported that Scotland Yard took no action against The News of the World in the case, because the police agency’s head of media relations, Dick Fedorcio, had a good relationship with Ms. Brooks and wanted “to avoid unnecessary friction with The News of the World.”

The Guardian reported in February 2011:

Senior Metropolitan police officers were enjoying private dinners withNews of the World editors at the same time as the force was responsible for investigating the phone-hacking scandal, it has been disclosed.

A list of meetings that Scotland Yard has handed over to the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA), which supervises the service, discloses eight previously unpublicised private dinners and five other occasions during which senior officers met with newspaper executives.

Two of the dinners came at particularly sensitive moments and are likely to revive fears that Scotland Yard’s handling of the phone-hacking affair may have been compromised by a desire to avoid alienating the UK’s biggest-selling newspaper.

In September 2006, the then deputy commissioner, Paul Stephenson, accompanied by the Yard’s director of public affairs, Dick Fedorcio, dined with the NoW’s deputy editor, Neil Wallis. This was only a month after officers had arrested the paper’s royal correspondent, Clive Goodman, and at a time when detectives were still trying to investigate whether other journalists or executives were involved in the interception of voicemail messages. In theory, Wallis was a potential suspect.

Read the list of meetings here:

2006 September: the then Deputy Commissioner Paul Stephenson – dinner with NoW deputy editor, and Dick Fedorcio, Metropolitan police director of public affairs

2007 November: Stephenson – dinner with deputy editor, and Fedorcio

2008 February: Stephenson – dinner with deputy editor [see footnote]

October: Stephenson – meeting with deputy editor and Fedorcio; Stephenson – dinner with editor, and Fedorcio

2009 February: Stephenson (now commissioner) – dinner with deputy editor and Fedorcio

May: Stephenson – dinner with editor and Fedorcio

June: Deputy Commissioner Tim Godwin – participation in NoW Save our Streets Roadshow alongside Jack Straw MP; Stephenson – attended News Corporation reception; Stephenson – dinner with deputy editor and Fedorcio

November: assistant commissioner John Yates – dinner with editor and crime editor

2010

August: Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick – at request of Stephenson met with deputy editor and chief lawyer of the NoW, together with two detective superintendents, where they were handed material alleging spot-fixing by Pakistan cricketers. This resulted in arrest and searches later that day

June: Stephenson – attended News Corp reception

Notice a pattern?

Tom Watson commented back in February:

I was taken aback to read of the number of private meetings, mainly dinners, between senior officers of the Metropolitan police and News of the World representatives. A spokesman for the Metropolitan police gave a nonchalant response saying only “Senior officers from the Metropolitan Police meet representatives from a wide range of media as a necessary part of their roles.”

News International’s response was typically more aggressive. They said:

“We never comment on what was discussed at private dinners but we would like to ask The Independent how many times the editor or senior staff met with senior policemen during the same period?”

They’re right of course. It may be that people are jumping to conclusions and being unfair to the News of the World. It could be that senior officers were meeting other media organisations a similar number of times to the News of the World, though of course, I don’t think that any of them were being investigated for criminal wrong doing.

I decided to extrapolate the figures to see how the picture would look if the Met had met other media outlets on the same basis as NoTW.

It shows that Sir Paul Stephenson between 2006 and 2010 would have shared hospitality 240 times. Here’s the PDF to show my working out.

The New York Times in 2009:

LONDON — With Britain in an uproar over a report in the newspaper The Guardian that two tabloid newspapers owned by Rupert Murdoch have systematically used private investigators to tap the cellphone messages of public figures and obtain other personal details from confidential databases, a senior Scotland Yard officer said Thursday that there would be “no further investigation” of the matter.

The officer, Assistant Commissioner John Yates, made the announcement only hours after he was assigned by Sir Paul Stephenson, the head of Scotland Yard, to “establish the facts” behind the disclosures. Mr. Yates said he had ruled out a new police inquiry because the Guardian disclosures had added “no additional evidence” beyond a police inquiry of the two tabloids’ activities three years ago.

The Guardian today on Stephenson and the Met Police:

Scotland Yard is trying to identify officers said to have taken £100,000 in cash between them from the News of the World. Met commissioner, Sir Paul Stephenson, above, had claimed sums involved were small.

What’s going on?