Police watchdog slams links to News Corp as lawsuits reach US

City A.M. Reporter
SENIOR London police staff linked to the News Corp phone hacking scandal showed poor judgement, took bad decisions and got too close to journalists working for Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers, an independent watchdog said yesterday.

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.

The IPCC said despite a growing clamour over phone hacking centred 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’s report follows 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 furore.The IPCC concluded that there was no evidence of corruption but ruled that both men had breached internal policies.

The IPCC comments come after British lawyer Mark Lewis, who has filed several phone hacking suits in the UK, said yesterday that he is taking legal action in the US on behalf of three alleged victims of phone hacking by the News of the World. The move marks the first legal action in the US.