10 Scotland Yard press officers 'used to work for Murdoch'

19th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

The outgoing head of of Scotland Yard told lawmakers Tuesday that 10 out 45 members of the force's press office previously worked for Rupert Murdoch's British newspaper arm News International.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Paul Stephenson was giving evidence to a parliamentary committee two days after he resigned over Britain's phone-hacking scandal, including questions bout the force's links to Murdoch's empire.

"I understand that there are 10 members of the DPA (Directorate of Public Affairs -- press office) staff who have worked in News International in the past," Stephenson, Britain's most senior police officer, told lawmakers.

He had earlier told the committee that the force employed a total of 45 press officers.

Scotland Yard, which has faced criticism over its failure to properly probe allegations of phone-hacking at the News International-owned News of the World and for allegedly cosy links with the newspaper and Murdoch's media group.

Stephenson on Tuesday denied he acted improperly over former News of the World deputy editor Neil Wallis, whom Scotland Yard employed as a consultant shortly after he quit the paper in 2009.

"I had no reason to be concerned about Mr Wallis," Stephenson told the lawmakers.

"I heard senior News International figures saying this was a rogue few (reporters involved in hacking) and people at a senior level didn't know anything about it."

Wallis was arrested earlier this month on suspicion of phone hacking. He worked two days a month for the police and his employment with the force ended last year.

Stephenson also faced questions over a five-day break he accepted at a spa where Wallis was a consultant.

Stephenson however denied taking a "swipe" in his resignation speech at Prime Minister David Cameron over the premier's hiring of former News of the World editor Andy Coulson and comparing it with the Yard's employment of Wallis.

"I was taking no such swipe at the Prime Minister," Sir Paul said. "I do agree with the prime minister when he says this was entirely different."

© 2011 AFP

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