Yard chief ate with ex-deputy NoW editor after bid to halt Guardian story | Media | The Guardian
The then commissioner of the Metropolitan police, Sir Paul Stephenson, dined with the former deputy editor of the News of the World hours after trying to persuade the Guardian to drop its investigation into phone hacking, it has emerged.
The Leveson inquiry into press standards was told that Neil Wallis, who was by that time on the payroll of the Met as a public relations adviser, was an acquaintance of Stephenson. Wallis was later to be arrested for questioning in connection with the hacking scandal.
The inquiry heard that Stephenson went on 10 December 2009 to see the Guardian editor, Alan Rusbridger, after being briefed by Assistant Commissioner John Yates that there was no new hacking evidence to investigate. Many believed the hacking allegations were politically motivated, Stephenson said, though he acknowledged he would have behaved differently had he been properly briefed.
After failing to dissuade Rusbridger, he went to dine with Wallis, Yates and the Met’s public relations chief, Dick Fedorcio. The appointments diary recorded it as a private dinner, which Stephenson said was held “at a pub/restaurant that I frequented socially”.
The Guardian editor was unaware that Stephenson knew Wallis, that he was planning to dine with him or that the Met was employing him. Rusbridger wrote asking for an explanation as to why he had not been told when the commissioner had expressed his “strong feeling” at the meeting that the Guardian’s reporting was “over-egged and incorrect”. He never got a reply.