6 Nov 2010

Coulson questioned by police over phone hacking

Police have questioned David Cameron’s Communications Director Andy Coulson over phone hacking allegations while he was editor at News of the World.

Andy Coulson, David Cameron's No.10 Communications Director, has been interviewed by police over phone hacking allegations while he was News of the World editor

Downing Street Communications Director Andy Coulson has been questioned by police investigating allegations that the News of the World was involved in illegal phone hacking while he was editor of the Sunday tabloid.

A Downing Street spokesman said: “Andy Coulson voluntarily attended a meeting with Metropolitan Police officers on Thursday morning at a solicitor’s office in London.

“Mr Coulson, who first offered to meet the police two months ago, was interviewed as a witness and was not cautioned or arrested.”

Andy Coulson resigned as News of the World editor in 2007 after the newspaper’s royal reporter, Clive Goodman, was jailed for conspiracy for writing stories about Princes William and Harry based on illegal phone interceptions.

Coulson has denied any knowledge of phone hacking during his tenure as editor at News of the World.

Shadow Home Secretary Ed Balls told Channel 4 News a lot of people were surprised that that David Cameron had taken on Andy Coulson as his head of media after the phone-tap allegations – but they were, he said, “issues for Mr Cameron to decide”.

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Later in the same year Coulson was appointed David Cameron’s director of communications, prompting opposition questions about the Conservative party leader’s judgement.

Last month Dispatches, the Channel 4 documentary, broadcast an interview with a former colleague of Coulson who said Coulson had known about the phone tapping and asked for the recordings to be played to him.

In October the New York Times published an interview with former NotW reporter Sean Hoare, who claimed that eavesdropping on mobile phone voicemail messages was widespread when Coulson was editor.

In September the Commons home affairs select committee launched an inquiry into the allegations after evidence from Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner John Yates.