The Metropolitan Police has denied that a journalist arrested over the phone hacking scandal had arranged a stay at a luxury health resort for its Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson.
Scotland Yard made the statement in response to reports that former News of the World deputy editor Neil Wallis was a PR consultant for Champneys health spa at the time of Sir Paul's five-week stay earlier this year.
The Commissioner was already under pressure after it emerged that he hired Mr Wallis as a PR consultant for the force. Mr Wallis was arrested on Thursday on suspicion of intercepting mobile phones. He was later bailed.
Sir Paul underwent an operation to remove a pre-cancerous tumour from his femur in an operation before Christmas. In January, Scotland Yard said the growth had caused further damage to the bone, which led to a fracture, and as a result, Sir Paul was readmitted to hospital and underwent a second "lengthy and complex" operation which prompted a lengthy period of recuperation.
Scotland Yard issued a statement saying: "Following his operations the Commissioner stayed, with his wife, at Champneys Medical from Monday to Friday over a period of five weeks earlier this year where he underwent an extensive programme of hydro- and physiotherapy. This enabled him to return to work six weeks earlier than anticipated. As with many officers, the Met paid the intensive physiotherapy costs.
"The accommodation and meals were arranged and provided by Stephen Purdew, MD of Champneys, who is a personal family friend who has no connection with, or links to, his professional life. The Commissioner only learnt who the PR consultant for Champneys was following a media inquiry.
"Although the provision of accommodation was as a result of a family friendship, unconnected with his professional role, in the interests of transparency it was nonetheless recorded in the Commissioner's Gifts and Hospitality Register on his return to work in April. This register is published quarterly on the MPS website and the entry for the quarter April to June is due to be published shortly.
"The Commissioner personally paid for all other treatments and extras, including a number of subsequent physiotherapy and cryotherapy appointments at Champneys Medical."
Mr Wallis's solicitor Phil Smith, of Tuckers Solicitors, said: "There is no connection whatsoever between any stay Sir Paul Stephenson may have had at Champneys and Neil Wallis."
Mr Purdew later said he was "outraged" by suggestions the stay was arranged by Mr Wallis. He said: "He came here to recover from cancer and a broken leg, to say it was a gift or a jolly is outrageous. It is a bl**dy disgrace. He was here for about a month. He was seriously ill so he stayed with me and this has backfired terribly."