British hack suspect 'may have advised Cameron aide'

19th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

Britain's Conservative party admitted Tuesday an ex-News of the World executive arrested over the phone-hacking scandal may have given "informal advice" to David Cameron's media chief before the 2010 election.

Neil Wallis may have advised his former boss from the News of the World, Andy Coulson, in the run-up to last year's general election when Coulson was working as Conservative leader Cameron's communications director, the party said.

Coulson was himself arrested on suspicion of phone hacking and bribing police on July 8, just days before Wallis, a former deputy editor and executive editor of the paper, was detained on suspicion of phone hacking.

Coulson resigned from Downing Street in January.

"It has been drawn to our attention that he (Wallis) may have provided Andy Coulson with some informal advice on a voluntary basis before the election" in May 2010, said a Conservative party statement.

"We are currently finding out the exact nature of any advice."

The Conservative statement insisted the party never directly employed Wallis.

"We have double-checked our records and are able to confirm that neither Neil Wallis nor his company has ever been contracted by the Conservative Party, nor has the Conservative Party made payments to either of them," it said.

"We can confirm that apart from Andy Coulson, neither David Cameron nor any senior member of the campaign team were aware of this until this week."

Two top Scotland Yard police officers quit in recent days after it was revealed that Wallis worked as a part-time consultant for the force when he left the News of the World.

The disclosure piled pressure on prime minister Cameron over his links to News International, Rupert Murdoch's British newspaper wing which published the News of the World before the paper was axed this month.

Coulson edited the News of the World from 2003-2007 but quit when a journalist and a private investigator were jailed for phone hacking.

© 2011 AFP

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