IPCC publishes reports relating to MPS links with former senior News of the World executive
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) found that “professional boundaries became blurred, imprudent decisions taken and poor judgement shown” by senior police personnel following completion of two investigations into allegations linked to the relationship between the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) and a former senior executive at the News of the World newspaper.
The IPCC conducted two independent investigations, one into the decision to employ Chamy Media, a company set up by former News of the World executive Neil Wallis, as an advisor to the MPS, and the second into then Assistant Commissioner John Yates’ alleged involvement in securing a job with the MPS for Mr Wallis’ daughter.
Deborah Glass, IPCC Deputy Chair said:
“In these investigations, at the heart of the issues affecting public confidence was the question of whether two separate arrangements – both involving a form of employment connected to Neil Wallis – were either corruptly entered into or otherwise breached MPS policies and procedures.
“In neither case did we find evidence of corruption, but in both cases we found that policies were breached, and in the case of the former Director of Public Affairs, Dick Fedorcio, that there was a case to answer in relation to misconduct.
“Our investigations were limited in scope to the issues over which we have responsibility. However, the findings should be considered in context.
“Despite the growing phone hacking scandal, which must have exercised the MPS at a senior level and which was beginning to damage the reputation of the Metropolitan Police in late 2009, senior people appear to have been oblivious to the perception of conflict. It is clear to me that professional boundaries became blurred, imprudent decisions taken and poor judgement shown by senior police personnel.
“I am acutely aware that both reports are being published against the backdrop of the Leveson Inquiry, which is examining the relationship between the police and the media. The ongoing inquiry is painting an uncomfortable picture of the relationship between the biggest police force in Britain and sections of the media. This culture has had an impact on public confidence, although I also observe that since these cases were referred, none of the senior personnel referred to in these reports are still serving.”
Neil Wallis left his job with the News of the World in June 2009 and set up his company shortly before the Guardian newspaper ran an article claiming that phone-hacking was much more widespread than had been revealed previously.
It is in this context that Mr Fedorcio approached Mr Yates in August 2009 about employing Mr Wallis to assist with the MPS media strategy to provide additional public relations support during his deputy’s absence. Mr Yates thought this “a sensible proposal”.
The IPCC investigation concluded that Mr Fedorcio had a case to answer in relation to the way in which Mr Wallis’ company was employed by the MPS. We found that he employed Mr Wallis prior to a written contract being agreed thereby compromising the competitive process that should have been followed.
Mr Fedorcio also failed to monitor the contract and to ensure Mr Wallis was appropriately vetted and he did not identify to the police authority the nature of Mr Wallis’ employment.
The MPS decided that he face allegations of gross misconduct. Mr Fedorcio chose to resign shortly afterwards.
Ms Glass added: “The IPCC cannot prevent a member of police staff leaving before facing misconduct proceedings. But I can and do observe that such a practice can be hugely damaging to public confidence.”
In the case of the employment of Ms Wallis, the IPCC concluded that employment policies were not followed and the responsibility for the lack of adherence to policy lay with the Director of Human Resources, Martin Tiplady, who had retired some time before the investigation began. This was no fault whatsoever of Ms Wallis.
The IPCC concluded that Mr Yates’ action in forwarding Ms Wallis’ CV to Mr Tiplady did not amount to misconduct. However the investigation did conclude that he showed poor judgement in forwarding the CV, which in the words that accompanied it, added to the inference drawn by staff that they were expected to find Ms Wallis a job. The involvement of these two members of the MPS management board had the foreseeable consequence that human resources staff believed that they were obliged to find a post.
IPCC investigators were told that the forwarding of CVs was “routine” and quite normal for an organisation the size of the MPS. The IPCC did not investigate any other instances of CVs being forwarded, nor were we provided with any evidence of impropriety suggesting that other instances should be referred. Forwarding a CV does not in itself, amount to misconduct.
The IPCC has recommended that the MPS reviews its practices in this area to ensure that they are not susceptible to allegations of interference or favouritism.
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