David Cameron’s media chief interviewed by police

2010-11-06 11:36

London – British Prime Minister David Cameron’s communications chief has been interviewed by police over allegations he encouraged reporters to hack phones during his previous role as a tabloid newspaper editor.

Communications director Andy Coulson voluntarily met officers investigating claims that journalists on the mass-selling News of the World paper had illegally intercepted phone messages to get stories, Cameron’s office said today.

“Andy Coulson voluntarily attended a meeting with Metropolitan Police officers on Thursday morning at a (lawyer’s) office in London,” said a Downing Street spokesperson.

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

Coulson quit in 2007 as editor of News of the World, Britain’s highest circulation newspaper and part of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp stable, and Cameron hired him the same year.

His resignation came after reporter Clive Goodman, who covered the royal family, was jailed for four months for writing stories based on information from a private detective who had illegally accessed the voice mail messages of palace aides.

Coulson has always denied being aware of the practice, but reports in the New York Times in September accused reporters of regularly hacking messages and one former journalist told the BBC he was asked by the former editor to tap into phones.

Opposition legislators have called for Cameron to sack his communications chief and critics have questioned his judgement in appointing Coulson.

The Downing Street spokesperson said Coulson enjoyed the prime minister’s full support and the interview he had given to police was expected to be the end of the matter.

Coulson’s questioning by police echoes that which Tony Blair underwent when he was prime minister.

Blair was interviewed as a witness three times by detectives investigating claims that state honours were handed out in return for cash. Two of his aides and his former chief fundraiser were arrested but later cleared of any wrongdoing.

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