The Met’s director of public affairs and internal comms Dick Fedorcio looked visibly shaken as he gave oral evidence to a Commons select committee today, just hours after being referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission in connection to the phone hacking inquiry.
During the session, Fedorcio stated that he had never spoken to Wallis about phone hacking, and based his appointment on the assurances of former assistant commissioner John Yates that ‘as far as he was concerned there was nothing that could embarrass any of us by that appointment’.
Fedorcio added that he was not aware at the time that Yates was a close personal friend of Wallis.
Following the session, former News International executive Jack Irvine commented to PRWeek: ‘Anybody who knows Wallis and his methods is speechless at the stupidity and naivety of the Met in hiring him.’ Irvine worked at News International at the same time as Wallis.
Irvine, who is now executive chairman of Media House International, added: ‘Fedorcio has 69 PR staff and yet the Met's PR stinks. He should be next out the door.’
Fedorcio got three quotes for the PR work, of which Wallis’ was the cheapest. Wallis worked for two days a month on ‘corporate policy matters’.
Fedorcio told the room that he was yet to seek legal advice on his being referred to the IPCC.
Both the PRCA and the CIPR have gave their full support to Fedorcio. PRCA Francis Ingham chief executive described Fedorcio, who is a PRCA fellow, as ‘one of the most respected people in our industry’.
‘I have yet to meet anybody with greater integrity than Dick, and there is absolutely no reason for him not to continue his outstanding work at the Met,’ added Ingham.
A CIPR spokesperson added: ‘Dick Fedorcio is a senior and respected member of the profession. All members of the CIPR agree to follow the CIPR Code of Conduct, which sets out the high standards of professional behaviour expected of practitioners. There are clear procedures to sanction or bar members who breach the code. We have no authority over individuals who are not CIPR members.’
One contact of Fedorcio has revealed that he was in ‘robust form, and determined to put his case’ as he prepared to stand at the hearing on Tuesday.
Another long-standing associate of Fedorcio’s described him as ‘thoroughly professional; gives good advice; and follows daft instructions given despite his good advice’.
In his hearing, former Met commissioner Stephenson revealed that ten members of the Met's department for public affairs - where 45 press officers work - have worked previously for News International in some capacity.