“I was a trophy arrest” says ex NOTW executive editor

"Wolfman" Neil Wallis, former executive editor of the News of the World

“Wolfman” Neil Wallis, former executive editor of the News of the World

By Daniel Lynch

The former executive editor of the News of the World, Neil Wallis, has criticised the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for his treatment while under arrest as part of the phone hacking scandal.

Speaking at the fifth annual Journalism Week at Leeds Trinity University, Mr Wallis, 62, said that he was informed last Thursday evening that there would be a decision announced the next morning on whether he would face charges as part of the phone hacking scandal.

But he was forced to wait until just 30 minutes before the announcement was made public to hear the decision himself.

Mr Wallis was arrested during a 6am raid on his home and told students and staff at Leeds Trinity that he was “a trophy arrest because of the zeitgeist of the time”.

His talk at Leeds Trinity University was only his second public appearance  since hearing the CPS decision.

Mr Wallis delivered an animated speech outlining the implications that statutory press regulation would have for the UK’s image as a “mother of parliaments” and a “bastion of world freedom”.

He bemoaned the lack of an effective investigative arm of the Press Complaints Commission (PCC), saying that, rather than statutory regulation, the PCC needed a “complete change in their ability to investigate complaints”.

Mr Wallis questioned the need for further legislation, as recommended by the Leveson Inquiry into the culture, practices, and ethics of the press in light of the fact that the laws already in effect have led to the arrest of 60 journalists.

Mr Wallis, a frequent critic of the suggested legislation supported by the Hacked Off campaign, said that giving parliament influence over press regulation would impair journalists’ ability to “hold to account the State, Government and the Establishment”.

According to Mr Wallis, Leveson threatens to allow politicians to “get the press they want, not the press they deserve”.

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Mr Wallis claimed the “devil is in the detail” when discussing Leveson. He said: “Believing MPs can control press is like believing in Santa.”

He added that state regulation will be the end to 317 years of the British free press. “Free press is about the ability of newspapers to investigate what they want,” he said.

But he claims during his journalistic career he would call the Press Complaints Commission every week to run through “iffy stories”, and be guided by their judgement.

The CPS have been asked for comment.

To see the video of the entire talk, click here.

Mr Wallis says the government is right to amend Leveson’s key recommendations:

And he says journalists are too often unjustly bracketed with the scum of society:

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