Sunday, September 25, 2011

#hackgate: Dick #FEDORICO

The search for the truth about the ties that bind Scotland Yard to News International is now likely to focus on the role of one man – Dick Fedorcio, director of public affairs for the Metropolitan Police.

Normally hidden in the wings, Fedorcio today is being hauled out into the bright lights of the home affairs select committee to answer questions about his role in the background to the phone-hacking scandal.

Guardian inquiries suggest that his 14 years at the head of the Yard’s media operation have made him a powerful figure, able to intervene in important policy decisions; and that he has a history of particular closeness with the News of the World.

There is no evidence that Fedorcio has done anything wrong, but there are troubling questions on which MPs will want his help:

* Was Scotland Yard’s failure to get to the truth in their original investigation in 2006 simply a case of ordinary incompetence (which is effectively their current defence), or did they deliberately cut short that inquiry as a favour to their powerful friends at News International? MPs will want to know whether Fedorcio formally or informally had any influence over the decision.

* Was Scotland Yard’s rapid decision to refuse to re-open the case in July 2009 influenced in any way by their close links with the News of the World? In relation to that controversial decision, was there any form of contact between Fedorcio and anybody at News International?

* Did Fedorcio play any role at all in the subsequent police statements to parliament, press and public which – we now know – included falsehoods, half-truths and evasions?

Fedorcio is a conservative figure, with a rugby player’s chest and a businessman’s suit. He rose through the ranks of local government PR – at the Greater London Council, West Sussex and Kent – and took over as head of public affairs at the Yard in September 1997, shortly before the arrival as deputy commissioner of John Stevens, who became a close ally. When Stevens became commissioner in 2000, the two men set out to find allies in Fleet Street, particularly among the conservative tabloids and the Daily more