London police media chief quits in hacking scandal
LONDON, March 29 |
LONDON, March 29 (Reuters) - The media chief for the Metropolitan Police quit on Thursday over his role in the News of the World phone-hacking scandal, the third top London police figure forced to resign by controversy over links between senior officers and the media.
Dick Fedorcio resigned a week after the London force proposed starting disciplinary proceedings for gross misconduct against him over the hacking affair, the police watchdog said.
He follows in the footsteps of former Commissioner Paul Stephenson, who was Britain's most senior officer, and John Yates, the country's top counter-terrorism officer, who both quit last July.
Fedorcio was at the centre of allegations that senior police officers were too close to editors at Rupert Murdoch's News International, the British newspaper arm of his News Corp media empire.
Critics say that police had not properly investigated claims News of the World reporters were hacking into the voicemails of mobile phones belonging to celebrities, politicians and victims of crime and their families until last year.
They argue that the close relationship, which included special briefings and meals at top restaurants often arranged by Fedorcio, was partly to blame.
In evidence he gave to an inquiry into media ethics earlier this month, Fedorcio also admitted he had allowed the News of the World's crime reporter to use his office computer to file a story.
Murdoch closed the paper down last year over the phone-hacking claims, and News International executives and journalists have since been arrested by detectives investigating these and other allegations that public officials including police were bribed in return for information.
Fedorcio was suspended last year over the decision to hire Neil Wallis, a former deputy editor at the News of the World, in a consultancy role at the London police force, a decision which prompted an inquiry from the Independent Police Complaints Commission watchdog.
"Our investigation found that Mr Fedorcio has a case to answer in relation to his procurement of the contract for Chamy Media (Wallis's company)," IPCC Deputy Chairman Deborah Glass said.
"Last week the Metropolitan Police Service proposed to initiate proceedings for gross misconduct and I agreed with that proposal."
Glass said that in light of Fedorcio's decision to resign, their report on the case would be published in the next few days. (Editing by Steve Addison)
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