Comic Coogan says tabloid paper had phone, bank details

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British comedian Steve Coogan told an inquiry Tuesday that an investigator for the News of the World had the TV star's personal details in a notebook including phone passwords and bank withdrawals.

Coogan, best known for portraying spoof chat show host Alan Partridge, also alleged that a former spokesman for Prime Minister David Cameron had used underhand, although not illegal, methods while working at the tabloid.

The actor told the judge-led inquiry into the phone-hacking scandal at the Rupert Murdoch-owned News of the World that in 2009 he had gained access to the notebooks of Glenn Mulcaire, a private detective employed by the paper.

Coogan said that Mulcaire's notebooks -- seized by police in an investigation that eventually led to Mulcaire being jailed in 2007 -- contained details of the comedian's phone account and password.

He said they also had notes on how much money the "Around the World in 80 Days" star had taken from an automatic teller machine, adding: "Somebody must have been looking over my shoulder."

The actor also alleged that Andy Coulson, the former editor of the News of the World, had lured Coogan into a telephone conversation with a woman in the Sunday paper's office to reveal details of an affair, which was recorded.

Coogan said Coulson then personally rang his manager saying they were going to run the whole thing, and the reassurances that lurid details would be left out were just a ruse to get him talking.

"It's like the mafia, it's just business," Coogan said.

Coulson resigned in 2007 after Mulcaire was jailed, although he denied all knowledge of phone-hacking. He went on to become Cameron's media chief but quit that job earlier this year and was arrested in July.

The News of the World was shut down by Murdoch in July after it emerged that it had hacked the phone messages of murdered teenager Milly Dowler, whose parents testified to the inquiry in London on Monday.

© 2011 AFP

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