Former Met police commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson, who resigned on SundayCredit: Max Nash/PA
Follow our live blog of today's (19 July) Commons select committee appearances by former Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson and former assistant commissioner John Yates, and the director of public affairs Dick Fedorcio.
2:56pm: That's it for John Yates' evidence, we've now moved over to liveblogging the appearance by Rupert and James Murdoch before the culture, media and sport select committee.
You can follow that blog here.
Key points from Yates' evidence:
- Yates claimed that it was the decision of the Met's director of public affairs Dick Fedorcio to give former News of the World deputy editor Neil Wallis a job.
Yates said he did not undertake "due diligence" on Wallis but did seek assurances that nothing in the phone hacking revelations could embarrass him. He conceded that he may have advised Fedorcio to give Wallis the job, but he couldn't remember.
- Yates also denied that he helped secure a job for Wallis' daughter at the Met, claiming he simply acted "as a postbox" in passing her CV to human resources.
Yates said that the practice was common everywhere, and that he passed on a few CVs every year as a favour, but denied that his involvement had any undue influence on human resources.
-Yates denied that he had a close relationship with Wallis
The former Met assistant commissioner said that they saw each other a few times a year and were "not bosom buddies".
2:51pm: Vaz asks Yates how long the Met keeps evidence.
Yates says that he thinks it it six or seven years, but it can be kept permanently in more important cases.
He is then asked about his future plans. He says that he is now accountable, and it is time for others to "stand up and be accountable".
Yates says he thinks it is "obvious" who he means.
"Who?," Vaz asks.
"News International," says Yates.
2:45pm: Back to his friendship with Wallis, Yates calls an article in this weekend's Observer about the friendship "codswallop".
He acknowledges that if corruption cases referred to the IPCC are investigated properly, some police officers will go to jail.
2:39pm: Ellis asks, with regard to Wallis' daughter, how many other times Yates had recommended people to HR for a position in the Met. Yates says he has done so before, and does so "maybe three or four times a year".
2:38pm: Yates is asked by Ellis how Fedorcio came to employ Wallis. Yates says identifying potential employees was for Fedorcio, and he has no knowledge of how Wallis came to be in the frame as a member of staff. Yates denies that he suggested Wallis' name to Fedorcio. He claims that Wallis was a good candidate for a job though.
2:35pm: Ellis puts to Yates that the Met blamed News International for not co-operating, and asked whether it is not common that “wrongdoers do not co-operate”.
Yates says that “the point is that, if they are seeming to co-operate, and if there is not evidence, you can simply not get a production order”.
2:26pm: Yates is asked by Conservative MP Michael Ellis whether, during his "fresh look" at the original inquiry in 2009, he tasked officers with looking more closely at the evidence the Met had in its possession, or whether it was much narrower than that.
Yates says that it was simply a "fresh look at the Guardian article" and no more. He calls the Guardian's work "classy investigative journalism", but says that there is often interesting journalism, and the Met can't launch an investigation each time.
2:21pm: Conservative Nicola Blackwood asks about previous comments to the committee by Yates, in which he said about his one-day review of the original investigation that he might have "done the minimum to get it off his desk". Yates says that his "doing the minimum" comment was taken out of context and he was interrupted, and that it was a case of priorities.
2:19pm: Yates is asked if he ever talked to Andy Coulson about phone hacking or Neil Wallis. Yates says no, he didn't. He says that he did speak to Coulson after his employment as David Cameron’s director of communications, but about counter terrorism and other matters, not phone hacking.
2:13pm: David Winnick asks Yates again about whether he vouched for Wallis prior to his employment by Dick Fedorcio.
Yates reiterates that there was no "due diligence", but that he gave assurances after speaking to Wallis. Winnick states that the News of the World was “very much in the news” at the time over phone hacking, and does it not seem strange that the former deputy news editor was taken on by the Metropolitan police?
Yates says he can "completely appreciate" that it looks odd now.
"There was simply no evidence against either Mr Coulson or Mr Wallis at the time … there was nothing in that Guardian article in 2009 that would suggest anything else". Yates denies that it was a huge story in 2009.
Winnick says: "Is it right to say then that you asked no questions of Mr Wallis about phone hacking?" Yates says he received "categorical assurances" that there was nothing in Nick Davies' article that could "embarrass" Wallis.
2:12pm: Vaz questions the decision that it was not necessary to tell Number 10 that the Met had employed a former member of staff from the News of the World, that it was simply an "operational matter"
2:11pm: Vaz asks Yates about the comments from Stephenson, that he was trying to protect the Prime Minister from being compromised by not telling him about Wallis.
Yates says that he made an offer to number 10 chief of staff Ed Llewellyn to clarify the terms used by the Metropolitan police, such as "scoping”.
"It was an offer to explain police protocol." Yates says that the offer was declined.
2:08pm: Julian Huppert asks if it is honestly common for an assistant commissioner to send a CV to the director of HR, and if there would really be no extra influence in that situation.
Yates says: "If you had known the director of HR, if he thought that there was anything inappropriate, he would have aborted it forthwith".
Yates says it is a regular way to get people in for two or three weeks at a time.
Huppert asks if this is proper – ”what about those who don’t have a friend there”. Yates says that it probably happens in the House of Commons.
2:07pm: Yates is downplaying his level of his friendship with Wallis. "I do not go round to his house … it [their conversations] was mostly about sport, I see him about two or three times a year."
"Don’t get the impression that we are bosom buddies."
2:06pm: Vaz asks about Wallis’ daughter. Yates says: "I was a postbox", claiming that he simply passed on a CV to the human resources department and did not see it again. He says he can "absolutely categorically deny" that he "secured this position" for Wallis’ daughter. "I had absolutely nothing to do with her employment, I was simply a postbox".
2:05pm: Vaz reiterates that Fedorcio said that with even a scintilla of concern from Yates, he would not have taken on Wallis. Yates said that he did not have a scintilla of concern at the time.
2:02pm: Vaz asks Yates about Wallis. He cites Fedorcio who said he employed Wallis because of Yates' reference, due diligence and assurances. Yates says that is "slightly over-egging the pudding, to put it mildly".
He says that he sought assurances from Wallis, asking him if there was anything in the articles by the Guardian's Nick Davies in which he was implicated. He says it was “not due diligence and was certainly not a recommendation”.
2:01pm: Committee chair Vaz says that it came as a surprise to the committee that Yates announced his resignation, despite saying forcefully that he did absolutely nothing wrong in this case.
He asks Yates why he resigned. Yates says the case has become a “huge distraction” for him in his current role. He sees "no indication at the current time that this pressure will subside". The other reason is that "leaders must stand up and be counted … my conscience is clear, but it is time to stand up and be counted”.
2pm: Up now is John Yates, who resigned as assistant commissioner for the Metropolitan police yesterday (18 July).
1:30pm – 2pm: Dick Fedorcio gives evidence. See coverage of Fedorcio's testimony at this link.
1:28pm: That's it for Stephenson's evidence. Director for public affairs Dick Fedorcio is up next.
Key points from Stephenson's evidence:
- Stephenson claimed that he had no idea when he took a free vacation from Champney's spa that Neil Wallis, a former editor of the News of the World (NotW) and later Met police consultant, had business connections with it.
Stephenson said that he regretted Wallis' employment, but had no reason to suspect at the time that the former NotW man, who has since been arrested, was connected to the phone hacking scandal.
- Stephenson claims that he did not inform David Cameron about Wallis' connection with the Met's phone-hacking inquiry in order to avoid compromising Cameron.
The former commissioner said that he had confirmed his decision not to concern Cameron with the information with a senior member of staff at No 10, but would not say who.
- Stephenson said that he was not pushed, but resigned as an act of leadership.
He said that Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, and Theresa May, the home secretary, had not wanted him to go, but that he had become a "distraction" to the inquiry following the Champney's revelation.
1:26pm: Vaz asks Stephenson again why he has resigned, when he claims to have no knowledge of Wallis’ involvement with phone hacking or connection to Champneys.
Vaz also asks how the resignations will affect the Metropolitan police.
Stephenson says he sincerely regrets that Yates has gone, and having a commissioner resign “cannot be helpful”, but says that the Metropolitan police will recover.
Stephenson adds he thinks the Metropolitan police needs to do more to be transparent to the media.
With regard to his decision to resign, he says he feels that his statement gives all the information about his resignation.
He adds that he is not leaving because he has been pushed, he is not leaving because of any lack of support from the mayor.
He says he is going because he is a leader, and being a leader is about “putting the people that you lead first, and doing things that will make people proud of the leader, and not about being popular".
1:22pm: Vaz asks Stephenson about Alex Marunchak, a former NotW employee who now works for the Metropolitan police, and whether there were any other former NotW staff now working for the force.
Stephenson says that there are 10 members of the Met's department of public affairs that formerly worked for the NotW.
This is Dick Fedorcio’s department, which employs 45 staff in total, Stephenson says.
1:18pm: Conservative Nicola Blackwood asks whether Stephenson gave Yates any off-the-record information or made any informal remarks that might lead Yates to the impression that he should work quickly or do “the minimum possible”.
Stephenson says no, no information of this kind was given.
1:10pm: Labour's Mark Reckless asks whether Stephenson understands why Yates might have been under pressure to produce quick results when Stephenson had said publicly, after asking Yates to review the case, that he would make a further statement about it “later that day”.
Stephenson denies that Yates was under pressure, claiming he actually said that he “might” report back later in the day, and says that it would not put pressure on a man of Yates’ experience.
1.06pm: Vaz asks Stephenson whether, with hindsight, the "so-called Hayman-Clark inquiry" was not effective.
Stephenson says that he would not call it that, adding that it was run by a “man of great integrity”, Peter Clarke.
He says that he accepts that there was “repugnant” material that he wishes had come to light, but it is a matter for Clarke and the judicial review how that inquiry was conducted.
Vaz then asks whether Yates' review of the initial Metropolitan police investigation into phone hacking was short. (Yates took a day to review the material, he told the committee last week.)
Stephenson says that he had no expectation about how long their review would take. He simply asked Yates to look at the July 2009 Guardian article, and report on whether there was new information.
1pm: Citing Yates’ friendship with Wallis, Conservative Nicola Blackwood asks Stephenson whether judgement was clouded at the Met by friendship.
Stephenson says that he cannot characterise their friendship, and they will have to ask Yates, but says that he had no reason to doubt the initial investigation and so no reason to query to the judgement of his officers.
He adds that he has a “huge amount of respect” for Yates.
12:59pm: Vaz asks Stephenson whether, despite his claims that he saw no hard evidence of Wallis' involvement in phone hacking, the Metropolitan Police should have suspected the possibility.
Stephenson says that now the information has come out about Wallis, he deeply regrets the contract, but he had no reason to suspect anything at the time.
12:56pm: Stephenson asked whether it would not be normal to check with anyone taken on by the Metropolitan police for PR purposes who else they had business with.
He reiterates that he has no involvement with the procurement of staff, and that the committee will have to ask Dick Fedorcio.
Labour’s David Winneck asks Stephenson: “Doesn’t it seem amazing that the Met had already looked in to phone hacking, decided not to pursue the matter any further, and yet the person who was actively involved with the paper at the time as deputy editor was taken on by the Met. Do you not see any contradiction on that?”
Stephenson says it is not contradictory, because senior officers had “no reason to have any suspicion about Wallis”.
Winneck presses Stephenson on whether it was clearly improper for the force to employ the former deputy editor of the NotW when it was investigating the criminality at the paper.
12:52pm: Stephenson is questioned about his statement that Wallis had a “minor contract”, and yet he was being paid £1,000 a day by the Metropolitan police. He is also asked whether he put pressure on Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger to lay off the hacking story. Stephenson denies that he put pressure on Rusbridger, and reiterates that he had no reason to doubt the first inquiry, despite the Guardian story.
12:50pm: Julian Huppert says that he cannot find any public declaration of Stephenson’s hospitality at Champneys.
Stephenson says that he put it into the hospitality register, and it will be published in due course.
12:48pm: Stephenson is giving assurances to Keith Vaz that he never met Andy Coulson and Neil Wallis together.
He adds that Wallis had "a minor part-time role" through which he received a small amount of advice.
Vaz asks whether Stephenson was consulted before Wallis was employed.
Stephenson says he was, along with Dick Fedorcio, but stresses that he now regrets that contract as it has become "embarrassing".
He says that he was confident Fedorcio would conduct the proper checks on Wallis at the time of employment. Stephenson says that he was not involved in the procurement process of Wallis, and did not know that Wallis’ daughter was also employed by the Metropolitan police, and only found out at the weekend.
12:47pm: Labour’s David Winneck asks Stephenson about the assurances he gave to the Guardian in July 2009, after the newspaper published fresh allegations about the case.
Stephenson says he suggested that Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger speak directly to John Yates.
12.45pm: Stephenson is asked if there are question marks about a person involved receiving such hospitality? Wouldn’t a superior be asking questions about this sort of relationship?
Stephenson said it was declared and put in his hospitality register, even though that was not needed. It was not a secret, he said.
12:42pm: Labour's David Winneck says he is not questioning Sir Paul’s integrity. But asked, leaving aside Wallis' position, was there not a situation which was inappropriate for any police officer to receive such substantial hospitality.
Stephenson says he does not think so. He says the owner of Champneys is a family friend connection, he paid for many treatments and it enabled him to get back to work very quickly. "I think it was damnedly unlucky Wallis was connected."
12:38pm: Stephen McCabe asks Stephenson about his knowledge of Wallis’ business connection with Champneys, where Stephenson stayed after accepting a week’s free hospitality there.
Stephenson says he knew of no one that knew Wallis was connected with Champneys.
McCabe asks whether, “in normal circumstances”, he should expect his senior officers to know that Wallis was connected with Champneys, especially given that John Yates said he was a "personal friend" of Wallis.12:35: Nicola Blackwood asks Stephenson about his statement that he had no reason to suspect Wallis was involved in phone hacking. And yet, in the year he met Wallis, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) report was released stating that there was a “widespread” market in police information to journalists. NotW was listed in the report, with 228 transactions. Blackwood asks, do you not think that should have alerted you to the possibility that Wallis could have been involved?
12:33: Julian Huppert asks about the morale of the Metropolitan Police going forward.
He says he was stopped by a Metropolitan Police officer who said he was embarrassed by the senior officers.
Huppert asks about what his successor can do to improve morale.
Stephenson says he has spoken to many police officers following his resignation who have spoken about their pride, and says it is proper to walk away before interfering with an investigation.
12:31: Stephenson is asked why, prior to his resignation, he did not tell the prime minister about Wallis.
Stephenson says he "would not want to open to the prime minister or anyone else to such compromise". Adding that he has not told the prime minister or home secretary about any other suspects in the case.
Stephenson says he would also not want to compromise the mayor, and so did not tell him about the arrest of Rebekah Brooks in advance either.
12:29: Bridget Phillipson asks Stephenson whether he should have been alerted sooner to the issues concerning Wallis.
Stephenson says he could not have been alerted sooner, that there was no one able to suggest there was a potential conflict of interest, except for Wallis himself, if indeed he could.
The contracting of Wallis, he says, was of no relevance until we knew he was a suspect. And to go public with that before we had evidence would compromise him.
12:27: Stephenson: “Prior to Wallis becoming a name related to phone hacking, I had never heard him connected to hacking.
"Why would I raise with anyone a very minor contract? I had no reason to suspect he was involved."
12:25: Stephenson is asked about not disclosing the information about Wallis to the home secretary, also.
"Why was this a matter that you felt you could not disclose? This has been interpreted negatively."
12:23: My understanding is that it was exactly the advice from a senior officer in Number 10 that we "don't compromise the pm". Which is why, he says, he did not tell Cameron about Wallis.
"I work very hard not to compromise people."
"It was only several weeks ago that I knew Wallis was involved, and only last week that I knew he was a suspect."
12:21: Reckless asks Stephenson about his non-disclosure of the employment of Wallis, Stephenson says he had no reason to doubt Wallis, or connect his name with phone hacking.
"I had no reason to disclose a very minor contract with someone who was advising my director of public affairs (DPA)."
12:20: Responding to Reckless, Stephenson is describing his work as commissioner, saying that he "manages risk", rather than investigating crime.
He says that he had close involvement in the case of the nightstalker, and the case of Stephen Lawrence, but never asked any questions about phone hacking and that he had no reason to suspect the investigation was not going well.
12:19: MP Mark Reckless asks Stephenson if he is surprised that his comments are being interpreted as an attack on Cameron. Stephenson says he cannot control the press and reiterates that he made no such attack on the prime minister.
12:18: Stephenson says he was trying to draw the contrast that he had no reason to doubt Wallis' integrity or to link him with hacking.
"I meant to impune the PM or no one by it. I just meant to give an example that Wallis' name was never related to hacking."
12:16: Stephenson says that "we live in a world in which the media speculates, and I was taking no such swipe at the prime minster".
He went on to say the appointment of Andy Coulson as the prime minister's communications director and the Met's employment of Mr Wallis "was different".
In his resignation statement Stephenson points out Wallis has not resigned from the NotW under the shadow of phone hacking.
12:15: Vaz asks Stephenson about his comment about David Cameron, and whether he was "taking a swipe" at the prime minster, which has "excited a lot of comment".
12:13: Vaz asks whether anybody asked him to go. Stephenson says no, that the mayor felt the resignation was wrong and that the home secretary was very upset. He took the decision against the advice of his colleagues and his wife, he says.
12:12: Vaz says that when he spoke to Stephenson last week, resignation was not in his mind. He asks him when he made up his mind when he had to go.
12:11: He says: "Clearly there were significant stories about me," and says "we are in extraordinary times."
"In the run up to the Olympic year, if there is going to be continuing speculation about the commissioner, then if I was going to do something I had to do it quickly.”
12:10: Vaz asks Stephenson why he resigned, despite claiming that he had “done absolutely nothing wrong” and having no knowledge of impropriety.
Stephenson says that he made it very clear when he took the post he would never allow the story to become about him.
12:09: Committee chairman Keith Vaz begins questioning Sir Paul Stephenson.
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