Fedorcio denies 'favours' claim
Scotland Yard's communications chief has denied a suggestion that he arranged for Rebekah Brooks to be loaned a police horse in return for securing work experience for his son.
In September 2007 Mrs Brooks, then editor of The Sun, rang Metropolitan Police head of public affairs Dick Fedorcio to inquire about looking after a retired horse, the Leveson Inquiry into press standards heard. At around the same time Mr Fedorcio's son Alex did a work experience placement at The Sun lasting four weeks.
Robert Jay QC, counsel to the Leveson Inquiry, asked: "Was it the question - put bluntly - of favours being called in here?"
Mr Fedorcio replied: "I don't believe it was at all, not as far as I was concerned. The arrangement at that stage in 2007, I was not involved in. That was a matter between my son and The Sun direct."
The inquiry heard that the police communications chief felt that lending Mrs Brooks the animal might result in positive media coverage for the Met about the care of retired police horses.
He also told the hearing that Mrs Brooks appeared "nonplussed" when police told her in January 2003 they had information suggesting that an allegedly corrupt private detective agency was paying one of her journalists at the News of the World.
Mr Fedorcio has been on extended leave from Scotland Yard since August pending an investigation into the awarding of a contract to Neil Wallis, former executive editor of the News of the World.
Mr Wallis, who was arrested on suspicion of phone-hacking last July but has not been charged, was paid £24,000 by the Met for communications advice between October 2009 and September 2010. The inquiry heard that Mr Fedorcio invited people from leading PR firms Bell Pottinger and Hanover to submit rival bids for the contract that was awarded to Mr Wallis.
Chairman Lord Justice Leveson suggested that the Met head of public affairs chose these companies because he knew they would be more expensive than the former News of the World executive, adding: "The point is, this is set up to get a result." Mr Fedorcio denied this, but confirmed that he initially wanted to award the contract to Mr Wallis without any competition.
The Leveson Inquiry, sitting at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, will hear from national newspaper crime reporters on Wednesday.