A former assistant Met commissioner attended the wedding of a News of the World crime reporter, the Leveson Inquiry has heard.
Lucy Panton, who worked at the paper from 2002 until it shut down last year, said Yates was a working friend who attended her wedding, and the wedding of Jeff Edwards, chair of the Crime Reporters Association.
She added: “He was a police officer who was at my wedding, along with many other police officers.”
“There were a few people at my wedding who I would class as working friends who I didn’t socialise with outside of work, and Mr Yates falls into that category.
“I certainly got on well with him, I had a good rapport with him, but we didn’t socialise outside of work. The wedding was the only occasion. There were a lot of people at my wedding.”
Panton was arrested in relation to Operation Elveden, investigating illegal payments to police, in December 2011. She was later released on bail.
The journalist said she had a good relationship with Yates, who resigned from the force last year over criticism of his review into the 2006 phone hacking investigation.
The inquiry had previously been shown an email, sent from news editor James Mellor to Panton in 2010, asking her to get information on a suspected al-Qaeda plot from the assistant commissioner.
It finished with the line: “Really need an excl splash line so time to call in all those bottles of champagne… [sic]”
Panton said Mellor had been “bantering” with her and there were “no bottles of champagne”. She admitted drinking with another former assistant commissioner, Andy Hayman, but said it would have been in a group situation.
She added: “We used to have champagne at the CRA Christmas parties, just a bottle at the beginning. Or maybe two. It didn’t flow in huge quantities. And I have to say, champagne didn’t feature although it seems to associate with me, but it didn’t feature in my day-to-day working lunches, very much at all.”
Yates told the inquiry last month the he had not been “plied with champagne” by Panton but said he may have shared a bottle with her and several other people.
Panton denied having a preferential relationship with either Hayman or Yates, and said although she found them helpful in background briefings, they were not forthcoming with “News of the World stories”, on specific child abuse cases or high profile crimes.
The journalist was asked about her relationship with Dick Fedorcio, former head of the Met’s Directorate of Public Affairs, after he revealed to the inquiry in March she had filed a crime story from his office.
Panton said should could not remember which computer she had used, but believed she had sat at Fedorcio’s desk to write the article. He claimed the journalist used a stand-alone laptop, and not a computer connected to the Met computer system, but said it may have been an “error in judgment”.
She had emailed the story to her own account from Fedorcio, and forwarded it to the news desk with the message: “Had 2 use Dick’s computer 2 file. Can’t seem to delete the original message details. Would not be helpful 2 him for people 2 know I was using his office so please delete that”.
She told the inquiry: “I think what my point of writing that was because I know ho these things get pinged around the office, and if someone saw a story being filed from someone within Scotland Yard, it might start people asking questions. They may not notice it has my name on it, they may just notice the email at the top.”
Panton said her relationship with Fedorcio was important, as the DPA would ask officers to hold back briefings or information for journalists working on the Sunday papers.
She added: “What I saw as my role – and I did act as the representative for the Sunday newspapers in the CRA – was to try and remind them there is another newspaper outlet that needs their assistance and could they perhaps hold back a photograph or arrange somebody, if they were arranging interviews of victims’ families, could they possibly hold something back for the Sundays.”
She denied the News of the World was in a special position with the Met, but said her role was to keep the relationship between the paper and the force running smoothly.
She added: “I don’t feel I was bullied by the editors. We were all put under a lot of pressure. It comes with the job.”
Panton admitted working with private investigator Derek Webb on two stories, one on the private life of a politician and another on a celebrity imprisoned abroad for child sex offences.