UK police judgment poor in News Corp hacking case: report

Thu Apr 12, 2012 5:44pm EDT
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By Michael Holden

LONDON (Reuters) - Senior London police staff linked to the News Corp phone hacking scandal showed poor judgment, took bad decisions and got too close to journalists working for Rupert Murdoch's newspapers, an independent watchdog said on Thursday.

While the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC)rejected allegations of corruption involving two of the top personnel at the Metropolitan Police (MPS), it was highly critical of their and senior colleagues' media relationships.

One of the former policemen named by the IPCC said its release of two reports simultaneously appeared designed to cause "maximum damage" to his reputation or to generate publicity for the IPCC.

The IPCC said despite a growing clamor over phone hacking centered on Murdoch's News International, the British newspaper arm of his News Corp empire, senior people at the force appeared "to have been oblivious to the perception of conflict".

"It is clear to me that the professional boundaries became blurred, imprudent decisions taken and poor judgment shown by senior police personnel," IPCC Deputy Chairman Deborah Glass said in a statement.

The IPCC comments come after investigations into John Yates, the country's former top counter-terrorism officer, and Dick Fedorcio, the MPS media chief, over their relationship with Neil Wallis, a former deputy editor at the News of the World, the Murdoch tabloid at the heart of the phone-hacking furor.

Murdoch closed down the paper last year, and several 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 resigned last month after the MPS decided he would face charges of gross misconduct over the decision to hire Wallis in a media consultancy role after he left the newspaper in 2009. Wallis has since been arrested by detectives investigating allegations of phone hacking.   Continued...

A sign is seen in front of the the NewsCorp building in New York February 8, 2012. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid