Sunday 30 September 2012

John Yates And Neil Wallis - A Mutual Understanding

The latest piece by my regular contributor.

John Yates is back writing a column, for the Telegraph, with his old friend Neil Wallis playing cheerleader in the wings
Explosive! Betrayal! Shambles!

Yates' article - dubbed 'Enemy at the Gates' - uses the Andrew Mitchell bicycle debacle to aim a high-power snipe at the current Metropolitan Police (MET) Commissioner, Bernard Hogan-Howe.  Yates compares him unfavourably to the superior tenures of "commissioners of the calibre of Lord Stevens or Sir Paul Stephenson" - something else Wallis enthusiastically endorses.  They do seem to have a lot in common, don't they...?

Both Yates and Wallis share a love of football, fine dining, and a staggering lack of self-awareness.  The irony of his own words is clearly lost on Yates if one compares what he says now, as opposed to what he said then - in his last few years in the MET. Here in 2012, Yates states
The Met looked far too ready to concede that any additional investigation into these matters was not worth the effort.
Hmmm.... 'Additional investigation not worth the effort' in comparison to what, exactly?  The awarding of a very lucrative MET contract to News of the World former Deputy Editor, Neil Wallis?
The total value of the contract was based on two days work per month at £1000 per day. This was funded jointly by the MPS’s Public Affairs Directorate and Specialist Operations, which was headed at this time by Assistant Commissioner (AC) John Yates....  following the award of the contract Mr Wallis’ fees were split evenly between AC Yates’ department and the Department for Public Affairs headed by Mr Fedorcio.
Or perhaps lax by comparison to a scant eight hours devoted to deciding no further investigation was warranted to contradict the News of the World's 'one rogue reporter' fairytale? Move along, nothing to see here. Or as Lord Justice Leveson described it, a "back-of-the-envelope job for the day"? Maybe that is what Yates is echoing in the Telegraph when he says
An investigation, as I know only too well, would have bought time, given everyone the space to breathe and allowed hitherto unknown facts to emerge before final conclusions were reached. By closing this down early, No 10 and the Met have created a problem that was avoidable.
Yates goes on to bemoan what he sees as the current lack of accountability of senior MET officers.  In Yates' good old days, he would have expected the MET Commissioner to be challenged on
live television, with the national and local media present, the commissioner would have had to explain all the circumstances of the incident to a committee whose membership was drawn from all the major political parties...He would then be questioned in detail about his decision-making...Who really challenges the commissioner now and who will challenge other chiefs in the future? Where is the transparency and the public accountability around key decisions?
Yates sounds almost nostalgic for his own appearances before the Parliamentary Select Committees for Home Affairs,  and for Culture, Media and Sport regarding MET accountability on Hackgate.  His evidence sessions were virtuoso performances of stonewalling and evasion, added to his obvious irritation at the impertinence of any Select Committee calling him to account.  Ditto his evidence to the Leveson Inquiry, given by video link from Bahrain.

And what of the two previous MET Commissioners to whom Yates invidiously compares Hogan-Howe - Paul Stephenson and John Stevens?  Both had reason to owe Wallis a debt of gratitude
Former News of the World executive Neil Wallis advised two former senior policemen on how to get the job of Scotland Yard commissioner, the Leveson Inquiry heard today. Mr Wallis said he helped Lord Stevens "throughout" his successful application to become head of the Metropolitan Police, telling him to stress he was a "copper's copper" or "thief-taker".  The ex-tabloid executive also offered his opinions on what the post required to Sir Paul Stephenson, who took over as Met commissioner in 2009.
According to Leveson evidence, Dick Fedorcio informed Stephenson in advance of his intention to contract Neil Wallis.  Stephenson appears not to have disagreed with Fedorcio's decision, perhaps as Sir Paul had already been receiving counsel from an altruistic Wallis - for free - on key speech-making. Once contracted however, Wallis was paid for this advice retrospectively.  Unfortunately for him, Paul Stephenson was put into the position (at the behest of Cabinet Secretary Gus O'Donnell) of asking Bob Quick to investigate serious allegations that John Yates may have been leaking MET Management Board level information to those in the media with whom Yates had over-close friendships.

John Stevens is the other 'high-calibre' Commissioner extolled in Yates' Telegraph piece.  He also enjoyed fine dining with Wallis and was appreciative of Wallis' grooming his public image.  On his retirement from the MET, Wallis proposed that the News of the World serialised Stevens' autobiography. Stevens was then offered a generous contract for a regular column entitled 'The Chief' - ghost-written by NotW's Deputy Editor - Neil Wallis.  For this, Stevens "was paid £5,000 for seven articles in the first year before his fee was upped £7,000 for the second." (Hacked Off)

Robert Jay's questioning of John Stevens revealed other interests shared by Stevens, Yates and Neil Wallis
The Birdcage, which is or appears to be a restaurant in W1... lunch...Sandersons, a hotel in Berners Street W1... lunch with Lord Alli and Neil Wallis... dinner with Neil Wallis... London's Brasserie... dinner with Rebekah Wade and husband, The Ivy... dinner with Mr Wallis, Convivio... News of the World, Scalini - Andy Coulson, editor, Neil Wallis, deputy editor ...
We get the picture - if only Yates and Wallis did.  Blithely unaware of perceptions, they still don't get it.  Their mutual admiration society is cemented by an unshakeable belief in their shared integrity and unchallengable 'objectivity'.  Countering any view that Yates may now be an discredited choice for newspaper columnist, Neil Wallis' eulogised on Twitter:
Ah, yes.  I believe Jung calls it 'projection' - no sense of irony or self-perception at all there from 'Wallis the Wolfman'.

So, Yates feels entitled to opine on the MET's handling of cycling in Downing Street, yet is stubbornly oblivious to the questionable closeness of past senior MET officers to Neil Wallis and News International. Ironically - Yates' own words in the Telegraph could equally reflect an alternative view of his role in Hackgate
It is, in the words of Malcolm Tucker from The Thick of It, an 'omnishambles'.  The only way to resolve it is to turn back the clock and for there to be a proper investigation.
 No shit, Sherlock - on yer bike.  Move along.

Related Articles
Alex Marunchak - Presumed Innocent
News Corp - Diplomatic Immunity?
The Cook-Hames Surveillance : A Watched Kettle...
Alastair Morgan On The Latest Hackgate Revelations

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  1. All roads lead to Brecqhou? Who had the most to gain from "Duckgate"? Nad Dorries said the far right. The Barclay Brothers own the Torygraph and fell out of love with UKIP. That leaves? The BNP. Money laundering via Monaco. Now there is a link between the EDL, Combat 18 and assorted neo-nazis. Icing on cake? The "My Telegraph" site allows disgraced ex Met detective D*r*k H*sl*m (Joe Poulton) freedom to RIP troll, post race hate and generally whinge that his genius is not recognised. News just in - Haslam will be in the witness box in Jan 2013. Ta Dah!

    1. I wonder if the Brecqhou Bugle is inserting itself in the space left in the Met's affections by the demise of the NOTW.

      It certainly has been doing the Met's bidding of late. Plus there is the political project of turning the UK into a channel islands tax haven.

      Reading the hackgate stories on here does make me think that it is a huge steaming pile of manure that we most probably never see the full extent of. Shame cos, if it all came out then i think more than a few rozzers and hacks would lose their jobs.