Wednesday 24 January 2018

Coulson had access to top-secret documents in Whitehall

Gordon Rayner in London

ANDY Coulson was given access to top-secret documents and attended meetings of the Britain's National Security Council despite passing only basic vetting checks before becoming David Cameron's communications chief, the Leveson Inquiry heard yesterday.

No checks were made on Mr Coulson's financial background, meaning the former editor of the 'News of the World' retained £40,000 (€50,000) worth of shares in News Corporation without the knowledge of the cabinet office.

Mr Coulson, who was appointed as Mr Cameron's media strategist in 2007, became the Downing Street communications chief after the general election in 2010. News Corp announced a politically sensitive bid to take over BSkyB in July 2010 but Mr Coulson said he had no involvement in the government's response.

The British prime minister has been heavily criticised over his decision to recruit Mr Coulson months after the 'News of the World's royal editor, Clive Goodman, and a private detective, Glenn Mulcaire, had been jailed for phone hacking.

Questions have also been asked about how thoroughly Mr Coulson, who was arrested last year and remains on police bail, was vetted after Mr Cameron told parliament that he only went through "basic" security checks.

Mr Coulson told the inquiry that Mr Cameron took part in his vetting process and also asked him about the phone-hacking case to make sure he could not be dragged into the affair. "I was able to repeat what I said publicly, that I knew nothing about the Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire," he said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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