Brooks defends police relationships

Fri, May 11, 2012, 01:00

There was nothing inappropriate about her dealings with senior police officers, Rebekah Brooks told the Leveson Inquiry today.

The former News International chief executive handed a list of meetings with senior officers and commissioners between 1999 and 2010 to the inquiry into press standards.

Her records include meetings with former Metropolitan Police head of communications Dick Fedorcio, as well as former commissioners Sir Paul Stephenson and Sir Ian Blair, and former assistant commissioner John Yates.

Sir Paul Stephenson and Mr Yates both resigned over the controversy over the hiring of ex-News of the World deputy editor Neil Wallis as a consultant.

Mr Fedorcio, who has also resigned, has told the inquiry that he hired Mr Wallis because he wanted someone he knew and trusted.

Mrs Brooks today said meetings with senior police officers would sometimes include the Sun’s crime editor, and may have sometimes been about the Sun-backed Police Bravery Awards.

“I felt that the contact I had with police officers, particularly commissioners and senior police officers, in that kind of context was always appropriate,” she said. “I never saw any of my dealings with the police, I never saw inappropriate conversations take place.”

She said at the bravery awards, she saw journalists come into contact with officers from the Metropolitan Police, as well as from across the country. “I always thought they were very useful for both sides rather than inappropriate but there’s always a risk that that is not the case.”

Some meetings with senior police officers would take place at restaurants as they were “neutral”, she said.

“Senior police officers were more inclined to want to go to a neutral venue like a restaurant, whereas a lot of meetings with politicians took place either in Wapping HQ or at party conferences, or at Downing Street or various ministries, that was in my experience.”

Asked if she exchanged work experience for Mr Fedorcio’s son at the Sun, for the acquisition of a retired police horse she was loaned by Scotland Yard from 2008 to 2010, Mrs Brooks replied: “absolutely not”.

PA