Profile: Dick Fedorcio, director of public affairs and corporate comms, Metropolitan Police

Dick Fedorcio relaxes into his comfy office sofa and talks candidly about the recent bomb attacks on London.

The Metropolitan Police's chief communicator is sitting beside a pile of newspapers calling for the resignation of his immediate boss, Commissioner Sir Ian Blair, amid an investigation into the shooting of the Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes.

'This is nothing compared to the 7 July attacks,' he says of that morning's headlines. It fast becomes evident that Fedorcio, 52, is unflappable.

At the helm of the Met's PR operation for the past eight years, he leads a 70-strong team at New Scotland Yard that includes 40 press officers.

He was on a conference call with the Greater London Authority and the fire and ambulance services just after the three underground explosions on that fateful July morning, when the bus bomb thundered from a couple of miles away in Tavistock Square.

'I recognised the sound. It's a sound that stays with you,' Fedorcio says.

'I had heard it before when I worked at County Hall and Airey Neave was assassinated.' The Tory shadow Northern Ireland secretary was killed in March 1979 outside the House of Commons.

'This time the press centre fell silent and everyone looked at each other.'

Fedorcio's first consideration was to decide which officers to put up as spokespeople and whether to deploy PROs to the incident sites. He organised for Sir Ian to address an international media throng desperate for information, but delayed sending PROs out as the roads were gridlocked.

He quickly deployed an alternative 24-hour roster to strengthen comms cover through the nights and at weekends for the coming days and weeks.

Despite oozing quiet confidence, Fedorcio comes across as a self-effacing, avuncular figure. 'You have to have a "don't panic" mindset to do this job. It is high pressure - lots of people are looking at you to find out what to do.'

Fedorcio is an expert media handler for crisis situations and the aftermath of tragedies. He has been involved in comms around the Paddington rail crash, the IRA Brighton bombing, the Stephen Lawrence inquiry, the Zeebrugge ferry disaster, 9/11 and now the UK's first suicide bomb attacks.

The son of a Polish shoemaker who came to England after the Second World War, Fedorcio had an inauspicious start in life. After flunking his A-levels, an advert in the Daily Mirror for clerical officers at the Greater London Council caught his eye.

On arrival at the GLC, he was picked out of a group of recruits to be the publicity officer because, he maintains, of his 'interesting-sounding' surname.

After 12 years, he left the GLC to be chief comms officer at Kent County Council under Sir Paul Condon, who headed Kent Police at the time and who would later reappoint him at the Met.

In 1992, he acted as president of the IPR. BNFL group director of corporate affairs and friend Philip Dewhurst, then also on the IPR committee, says: 'Before Dick joined as president it was a bit like an old boys' club, but now it is a really effective professional body.'

Fedorcio says it is his sense of humour that has kept him going through the punishing working hours since 7 July. 'We were all working at least 12 hours a day from 7 July for the following few weeks. On the day itself, I started work at 8am and finished at 1am Friday morning. Just when it looked as though things were getting quieter, we got 21/7 attacks, so it started all over again.'

In a recent PRWeek feature, senior PROs were asked what keeps them awake at night. 'I said the phone keeps me up because people call in the middle of the night, and I was told by one of my team I was too flippant,' he says.

But Fedorcio is certainly serious in his commitment to his work: 'I don't want to do a bit of a job, I want to do all of it. A job like this consumes you.'

With his potentially toughest challenge yet to come - the Independent Police Complaints Commission's investigation into the de Menezes shooting is ongoing - there is little danger of a quiet life.

CV 1971: Publicity officer, Greater London Council 1983: Information officer, West Sussex County Council 1986: Director of corporate comms, Kent County Council 1994: Director of communications, Electricity Association 1997: Director of public affairs and internal communications, Metropolitan Police

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