LONDON — London’s Metropolitan Police said Thursday that its communications chief was resigning following charges of gross misconduct over the phone hacking scandal at Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World tabloid.
In a statement, the police said “Dick Fedorcio, our Director of Public Affairs for the past 14 years, has taken the decision to leave on 31st March 2012.”
Scotland Yard, the nickname for the Metropolitan Police, has come under harsh criticism for its cozy relationship with the media during its initial probes into phone hacking at Murdoch’s Sunday tabloid. Shortly after News of the World closed last July, two of Scotland Yard’s most senior police officers resigned.
For his part, Fedorcio was facing charges of gross misconduct for hiring Neil Wallis, former executive editor of News of the World, as a media consultant for the police. While Wallis worked for the police through his company, Chamy Media, between October 2009 and September 2010, the police decided not to reopen the phone hacking investigation, despite fresh allegations from the Guardian.
Wallis was arrested on suspicion of phone hacking last summer, although he has not been charged.
Fedorcio, who has been on extended leave from the police since last August, has “a case to answer in relation to his procurement of the contract for Chamy Media,” Deborah Glass, the deputy chair of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), said in a statement Thursday.
The statement from Britain’s police watchdog continued: “Last week the Metropolitan Police Service proposed to initiate proceedings for gross misconduct and I agreed with that proposal. In light of Mr. Fedorcio’s resignation today, those proceedings cannot now take place and I propose to publish our investigation report detailing our findings, in the next few days.”
Meanwhile, Rupert Murdoch hit back at critics Thursday in separate allegations after claims by the Australian Financial Review that News Corp. has sabotaged its competitors.
The 81-year-old chairman of News Corp. tweeted:
Seems every competitor and enemy piling on with lies and libels.So bad, easy to hit back hard, which preparing.— Rupert Murdoch(@rupertmurdoch) March 29, 2012