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Thursday 11 August 2011

Murdoch Is Served (55)

While attention has been focused on the rioting and looting, another arrest has been enacted as part of the long running saga that is Phonehackgate. This time it was Greg Miskiw, former news editor of the Screws, who turned up to a Police station of his choosing only to find himself nicked and detained. But Miskiw was not the main event yesterday.

That honour fell to Dick Fedorcio, head of public affairs for the Met. Fedorcio has been placed on “extended leave” and will be working from home – in other words, kept out of the office while he is investigated. That investigation concerns his relationship with Neil “Wolfman” Wallis, former deputy editor of the Screws, who we now know was hired in 2009 to give PR advice to the Met.

Wallace is already on the list of those arrested, and the potential charge against Fedorcio is one of gross misconduct. Should that be proved, it would almost certainly invoke instant dismissal. So, although the arrest and questioning of Miskiw will lead the trail ever closer to Murdoch Junior, that direction of travel was already well known, and for Junior to get nicked would not be unexpected.

But if the Met’s head PR man gets the boot as a result of the investigation into his conduct, that would be another blow for the force, and another admission, implicit or otherwise, of corruption. The public had been led to believe that the bad old days of bent coppers had been banished, especially after the tenure of Robert Mark, whose ambition for the Met was “to arrest more criminals than we employ”.

Because the impression given from Phonehackgate and its revelations is that the bad old days, when the CID enjoyed good relations with gangsters, drug dealers and pornographers have been succeeded by the more recent past, when some in the Met have enjoyed rather too good and close ties to certain parts of the Fourth Estate, notably that owned by Rupe and his troops.

All the more reason for the phone hacking affair to be investigated and those involved prosecuted, whoever they may be, and wherever the investigation leads. The first stop may well be the response of Junior as to why he did not mislead the Commons culture committee last month. This is expected by today.

This one still has a long way to run.

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