I never condoned phone hacking, says Coulson

The editor of the News of the World said today he had introduced "rigorous" safeguards to prevent a repeat of the phone-hacking scandal that resulted in the resignation of his predecessor.

Colin Myler told MPs he had written to journalists warning them that failure to comply with the industry code of conduct or the law would result in disciplinary action and possible dismissal.

He also insisted there was no evidence of complicity with phone hacking by any News of the World employee other than former royal editor Clive Goodman.

Mr Goodman left the paper after being jailed in 2007 for involvement in the hacking of voicemails on the phones of royal aides.

The then editor, Andy Coulson, resigned. He has since become the Conservative Party's director of communications.

Mr Myler told the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee today he had introduced "rigorous new safeguards" when he took over as editor in January 2007.

He said he had emailed and written to all staff setting out the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) code of practice and data protection compliance requirements.

The "relevant clause" in staff contracts had also been re-written so that it was "emphatically stronger and broader", he said.

He said failure to comply with the PCC code would result in disciplinary proceedings and possibly summary dismissal.

Other procedures to prevent the phone hacking situation arising again included "strict protocols" and auditing of cash payments, regular training on legal issues and seminars with the PCC.

Mr Myler said cash payments for stories and tip-offs had been reduced during his editorship by between 82% and 89%.

"The News of the World continues to work with its journalists and its industry partners to ensure they fully comply with the relevant legislation and the rigorous requirements of the PCC code of practice," he told the committee.

Mr Myler also said previous comments made by former News International executive Les Hinton, that no other News of the World journalists were known to be involved in the phone hacking affair, were accurate.

"At no stage did the police arrest or question any member of the News of the World staff besides Mr Goodman," he said.

"Mr Hinton's evidence was based on what was known at the time and was entirely truthful."





The Guardian recently claimed other senior journalists were involved in the phone hacking activity, for which private investigator Glen Mulcaire was also jailed.

News International, the NotW's parent company, was also reported to have paid out a million pounds in civil damages.

The Guardian alleged that "thousands" of public figures - including celebrities and a Royal aide - were targeted with hacking.

Mr Coulson, who was also today appearing before the select committee, has always insisted he was not aware that the phone-hacking was taking place, and only resigned because he bore "ultimate responsibility" for what happened "on his watch".

Tory leader Mr Cameron has given his communications chief strong backing.

Mr Myler said today he had not seen evidence of any payments for illegal activity at the News of the World.

He went on: "I have never worked or been associated with a newspaper that has been so forensically examined, both internally, by outside solicitors, by the police, by the CPS, by the DPP.

"Now if it comes down to this committee and others not being satisfied by those inquiries I really don't know what more I can say."







Appearing before the committee later, Mr Coulson said he had never approved of phone hacking and had no recollection of it being used in his four years as News of the World editor.

"During that time I neither condoned the use of phone-hacking and nor do I have any recollection of instances when phone-hacking took place," he said.

"My instructions to the staff were clear - we did not use subterfuge of any kind unless there was a clear public interest in doing so. They were to work within the PCC code at all times."

Mr Coulson said his staff attended PCC seminars and were given regular refreshers with company lawyers.

He went on: "I gave the reporters freedom as professional journalists to make their own judgments and I also gave them plenty of resources.

"We spent money in pursuit of stories at the News of the World, more money than most newspapers, and I make no secret of the fact."

But he insisted he only ever concentrated on a "handful of stories" that the paper was working on.

"I wasn't able to micro-manage every story and nor did I attempt to," he said.

On the Goodman-Mulcaire case, Mr Coulson said: "I never met, emailed or spoke to Glen Mulcaire."

But he said he knew the name of a consultancy which he later found out was Mulcaire's because his paper paid it £100,000 a year for "legitimate investigation services".

That payment "did not stand out" among the paper's expenditure, he said.

He added that extra payments made to Mulcaire by Goodman were "unknown to me and concealed from the managing editor".

He said he had no knowledge of the paper's recent settlement with Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, whose voicemail was hacked into by Mulcaire.

"Things went badly wrong under my editorship of the News of the World," Mr Coulson said.

"I deeply regret it. I suspect I always will. I take the blame because ultimately it was my responsibility.

"I am not looking for sympathy and I am unlikely to get any today.

"But when I resigned I gave up a 20 year career with News International and in the process everything I worked towards from the age of 18.

"But I think it's right that when people make mistakes, they take responsibility and that is why I resigned."

Mr Coulson described Goodman as a "rogue reporter".



Mr Coulson said he had been informed by the Metropolitan Police that his own phone may have been hacked.

"I received a call from Scotland Yard the Friday before last, from a detective superintendent, to be told there is strong evidence to suggest that my phone was hacked," he said.

"In fact it would appear that there is more evidence my phone was hacked than there is that John Prescott's was."

He added: "I clearly didn't know what Glen Mulcaire was up to."



Mr Coulson said the first he heard of the Gordon Taylor litigation was when he read about it in the Guardian.

"I never asked for a Gordon Taylor story, I never commissioned a Gordon Taylor story, I never read a Gordon Taylor story to the best of my recollection, as you will know we did not publish a Gordon Taylor story.

"Gordon Taylor, with all due respect to him, is not exactly a household name. He may have appeared in the sports pages of the News of the World from time to time; I certainly would not have been interested in a story on him or about him at the front end of the newspaper," he told the committee.

He said the suggestion that phone hacking was being used by journalists had been "in the ether of the newspaper world for some time" but that he himself had not been involved in any way.

Asked if he felt he could have a "proper relationship of trust" with Buckingham Palace should Mr Cameron become prime minister, he said: "There is no problem my end.

"I apologised fully several times, quite properly, to the royal family and to all those who were affected by Clive's actions," he said.

"In relation to this job now, I have done my best to work in as upright and as proper a fashion as I can. Ultimately though, I guess it is for others to judge."

Asked if he agreed with Piers Morgan, the ex-News of the World editor-turned television celebrity, that illegal practices were well known about in the media, he told the MPs: "Ask Piers - he's not backward in coming forward."

Put to him that as a "sainted, celebrated" predecessor Mr Morgan would know what he was talking about, he said, to laughs: "He would certainly like that description."

In bitter exchanges with Tory MP Philip Davies, the newspaper's former managing editor Stuart Kuttner denied his decision to quit shortly before the Guardian's allegations were published was related to the issue.

Mr Kuttner called for the MP to be barred from asking him questions because he had told The Guardian he found the denial "far fetched" which meant he had prejudged today's evidence "in very prejudicial terms".

"In those circumstances I am concerned that Mr Davies is acting as judge and jury and has already made up his mind as to the reliability of anything I say," he said, asking that he be axed from the hearing.

Committee chair, Tory John Whittingdale, rejected his request and told him the committee was "not a court" and Mr Davies said he trusted the public "to make their own conclusion".

Mr Kuttner told him: "I do not think that my resignation is not linked to this matter; I know it is not linked to this matter and moreover there are legal documents in existence ... that make that position perfectly clear."

He said it had never occurred to him that News of the World reporters would try to gain information illegally.



Earlier, Mr Myler confirmed that the News of the World had paid a sum of money to settle an action brought by Mr Taylor.

Tom Crone, the legal adviser at News International, said Mr Taylor had been first to raise the confidentiality clause.

"Every single case against us for breach of privacy results, unless the information is already out in the public domain, in a very strict term of confidentiality at the end of the case," he said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
The teaser trailer has provoked more questions than answers
filmBut what is Bond's 'secret' that Moneypenny is talking about?
News
Johnny Depp is perhaps best known for his role as Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean
peopleBut how did he break it?
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Walker and Vin Diesel in Fast and Furious 5
film
Sport
Lewis Hamilton secured his second straight pole of the season
f1Vettel beats Rosberg into third after thunderstorm delays qualifying
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Web Developer - ASP.NET, C#, MVC - London

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Web Developer -...

Ashdown Group: .NET Developer : ASP.NET , C# , MVC , web development

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits - see advert: Ashdown Group: .N...

Guru Careers: 3D Package Designer / 3D Designer

£25 - 30K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an exceptional 3D Package Designer / 3...

Guru Careers: Interior Designer

£Competitive: Guru Careers: We are seeking a strong Middleweight / Senior Inte...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss