Reporter says UK PM's ex-aide knew about hacking

5th February 2011, Comments 0 comments

British Prime Minister David Cameron was "either a liar or an idiot" to believe that his former media chief was not involved in phone hacking, a reporter claimed in newly published evidence Friday.

Freelance journalist Paul McMullan claimed that Andy Coulson, who until last month was Cameron's chief of communications, knew that reporters were hacking celebrities' phones when he was editor of the News of The World tabloid.

In written evidence to a parliamentary committee investigating the hacking scandal, McMullan said "everyone in the schoolyard did it" when Coulson worked at The Sun tabloid, before he moved to the News of The World.

"For what it is worth Andy Coulson knew a lot of people did it at The Sun on his 'Bizarre' (showbusiness) column and after that at NOTW," he wrote.

"As he sat a few feet from me in the newsroom he probably heard me doing it, laughing about it etc and told others to do it. I worked under Coulson for a year and a half at NOTW.

"The real scandal is Cameron would have been briefed: 'We can probably get away with this one,' when hiring Coulson, so Mr. Cameron is either a liar or an idiot."

Coulson was editor of the Rupert Murdoch-owned News of The World in 2006, when the paper's royal editor, Clive Goodman, was arrested for hacking into voicemails belonging to Princes William and Harry.

When Goodman was jailed in January 2007, Coulson quit his job -- but insisted he had known nothing about the hacking, a position he maintained when Cameron hired him a few months later.

Amid ongoing revelations about the scandal, Coulson quit Cameron's team last month, saying the row was proving too distracting. He denies any wrongdoing.

A spokesman for Cameron told the Daily Telegraph newspaper that the allegations against the prime minister were "complete rubbish".

© 2011 AFP

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