British PM's media chief questioned by police

6th November 2010, Comments 0 comments

British Prime Minister David Cameron's communications chief has been questioned by police over allegations of phone-hacking when he edited a tabloid newspaper, it was confirmed on Saturday.

Downing Street said Andy Coulson voluntarily attended a meeting with officers from London's Metropolitan Police on Thursday and was interviewed as a witness.

Coulson edited the News of the World at a time when the royal correspondent of the Sunday tabloid was jailed for conspiracy to access mobile phone messages involving Princes William and Harry.

While Coulson resigned from the newspaper in 2007 over the affair, he has always insisted he did not know about the phone-hacking or authorise its use.

A police investigation into the phone-hacking was revived after a former reporter at the tabloid, Sean Hoare, told the New York Times in September that Coulson had "actively encouraged" him to hack phone messages.

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."

Scotland Yard said it did not discuss anyone being interviewed as a witness.

Coulson is a former showbusiness reporter who rose rapidly through the ranks at the Rupert Murdoch-owned Sun and News of the World, being made editor of the Sunday tabloid at the age of 34.

He was appointed communications director of Cameron's Conservatives in 2007 and played a key role in securing the backing of The Sun for the party ahead of May's general election.

When the Conservatives entered government in a coalition with the Liberal Democrats, Coulson joined Cameron's team in Downing Street on an annual salary of 140,000 pounds (227,000 dollars, 161,000 euros).

© 2010 AFP

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