Leveson Inquiry: Summary of week 13

Sir Paul Stephenson said the break represented his ''best chance at getting back to work as early as possible''

This week, the Leveson Inquiry heard from some of Britain's former top police officers about the changing nature of their relationships with the press.

On Monday, former Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson told the hearing that contact between some senior colleagues and the written media had been "closer than he would have liked".

He declined to name the "very small number" of individuals, but said they had gossiped or leaked stories, which had been "deeply unhelpful and added to a continuing dialogue of disharmony within the Met".

Sir Paul also defended his decision to accept a stay at Champneys, while former News of the World executive editor Neil Wallis was working as a public relations consultant for the spa.

But Britain's former top police officer, who resigned as commissioner last July after facing criticism for hiring Mr Wallis as a PR consultant, told the inquiry he had not been aware of his role with Champneys at the time.

Sir Paul said he thought the stay would help his rehabilitation after undergoing surgery to remove a pre-cancerous tumour.

He also told the inquiry he might not have resigned had it not been for his ill-health.

The inquiry also heard about a long list of lunches, dinners and drinks Sir Paul had had with newspaper journalists and editors.

'Filling their boots'

Also on Monday, the author of a report into relations between the Met Police and the media said there was feeling that some senior officers were "filling their boots" with hospitality.

Elizabeth Filkin, a former parliamentary standards commissioner, told the inquiry it was "not a proper thing" for public servants to be seen to be receiving "a lot of hospitality from particular individuals or businesses".

On Tuesday, former Met chief Lord Condon told the inquiry that police leaks to the press were a concern when he was commissioner, between 1993 and 2000, he said.

But he said a "massive bureaucratic over-reaction" of police having to record all contact with the media should be avoided.

He said his relationship with the media was the single thing dominating his life "for every waking minute I was on duty"," he said.

£7k per article

Also on Tuesday, the inquiry heard that Lord Stevens, Met Commissioner between 2000 and 2005, had his autobiography serialised in the News of the World.

Lord Stevens: "People are absolutely terrified of picking up the phone or speaking to the press"

He also wrote columns at £7,000 per article, a contract he terminated in October 2007 over concerns about the phone-hacking convictions.

"I would never have written the articles if I had known what I now know," he said.

He warned at the inquiry that riots could erupt if police cut ties with journalists after the phone-hacking scandal.

Lord Stevens said not using the media to explain police actions after an incident like a police shooting could lead to "massive public disorder".

'Absolutely terrified'

He said Scotland Yard officers had become "absolutely terrified" of speaking to the press.

On Wednesday, former Met Police chief Lord Blair told the inquiry the police were largely apolitical until Tony Blair said "tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime".

He said he believed when he was in the job that senior staff were already spending too much time worrying about what the media was going to say next.

Former Met Police Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick said he and others under his command became concerned about relationships between officers and journalists.

"It became apparent that some officers were being bribed for stories," he added.

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