UK hacking scandal claims 3rd senior police figure

Associated Press SHARE

By RAPHAEL SATTER, Associated Press

LONDON (AP) — Scotland Yard's communications chief resigned Thursday, the third senior police figure to part with his job over the force's failure to come to grips with Britain's phone hacking scandal.

Dick Fedorcio stepped down after the force decided he would face disciplinary proceedings over a contract awarded to a former executive at Rupert Murdoch's now-defunct News of the World tabloid. The Independent Police Complaints Commission ruled that Fedorcio had to answer questions over the decision to hire Neil Wallis, the former News of the World executive later arrested on suspicion of breaking into voicemails.

The links between senior members of the News of the World and Scotland Yard have come under particularly close scrutiny because both organizations insisted for years that there was no evidence of widespread phone hacking at the tabloid.

Those assurances fell apart after it emerged that journalists at the paper routinely broke into the phones of celebrities and other public figures to score scoops or get leverage. Three parallel police inquiries, a cascade of lawsuits, and a judge-led inquiry have since lifted the lid on a host of illegal practices, from large-scale bribery to computer hacking.

The scandal's fallout has shaken Britain's establishment. The News of the World has been shut, the country's press watchdog has been scrapped, and dozens of journalists, executives, and public officials have either resigned, been suspended or been arrested over their role in the scandal.

Among them are former Scotland Yard chief Paul Stephenson and ex-Assistant Commissioner John Yates, both of whom resigned in July. Fedorcio's decision was announced Thursday, but he'd been on extended leave since August.

Politicians also have been drawn into the scandal. Kit Malthouse, London's deputy mayor for policing and crime, was asked why he had challenged police about the resources they were pouring into the phone hacking investigation.

Malthouse, called before the judge-led inquiry on Thursday, defended his skepticism, saying that the phone hacking investigation is projected to draw in some 200 people by 2013.

"That's the equivalent of eight murder squads," he said.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.