Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

Neil 'Wolfman' Wallis a dogged hack with top Yard contacts

Neil Wallis is known as The Wolfman, not just because of his occasional penchant for facial hair and vulpine looks, but also because, during his coverage of the Yorkshire Ripper murders he came up with the theory that the killer attacked only on a full moon.

The nickname caught hold in the tabloid newspaper culture, in which Wallis marked himself out by attaching the title 'World's Greatest Reporter' to his byline in the Daily Star.

A grammar school boy from Lincolnshire, he began his career on the Skegness Standard before quickly climbing the greasy pole of the red-top press. He made his name as a hard-bitten hack for The Sun, covering the north of England before rising to features editor and news editor.

In 1998, he switched newspaper stables to the Mirror Group to become deputy editor of the Sunday Mirror and then editor of The People, where he took a high-profile role in competing with the News of the World. He networked - especially with top cops - and took a place on the Press Complaints Commission, the industry regulator.

It is a testimony to Wallis's tabloid reputation that News International called him back in 2004 to be a deputy for Andy Coulson, a novice editor at the NoTW.

To newsroom staff, The Wolfman was a tough guy, who put them under intense pressure to find exclusives. He added to the macho culture by bringing in former colleagues from the Mirror Group, such as news editor Ian Edmondson and the tabloid veteran James Weatherup. Wallis is remembered by ex-colleagues for his acute attention to detail, quick brain and vindictive nature.

To them, news that Wallis was hired as a consultant by the Metropolitan Police last year was less surprising - his high-level contacts with Scotland Yard were legendary.

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