Hacking trial: Piers Morgan would ‘rather have Andy Coulson in Downing Street’ than ‘two-faced, cowardly fraud’ Ed Miliband

The former Daily Mirror editor also called for David Cameron to be prosecuted for contempt

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The Independent Online

Piers Morgan launched a scathing attack on Ed Miliband following his comments about Andy Coulson, the former editor of the News of the World found guilty of phone hacking at the Old Bailey yesterday.

The leader of the labour party called for Prime Minister David Cameron to extend his apology and explain why he hired Coulson as his director of communications and took “a criminal into the heart of Downing Street”.

His comments followed a brief television interview with Cameron yesterday, in which the PM said he took “full responsibility” for employing Coulson following his verdict.

“This isn’t just a serious error of judgment, it taints David Cameron’s government because he put his relationship with Rupert Murdoch ahead of doing the right thing,” Miliband said. “This is not some small or accidental mistake. He stuck with Andy Coulson over a long period of time.


“He was warned by the deputy prime minister [about the phone hacking], he saw stories in newspapers, he was warned by newspaper editors and yet still he refused to act and even today he is defending some of the conduct of Andy Coulson.”

Morgan, who declared his support for “friend” Coulson on Twitter yesterday, branded Miliband a “two-faced cowardly, opportunistic fraud” and said he’d rather have the editor working in government than the labour leader.

He also expressed his opinion that Cameron should be prosecuted for contempt for issuing his apology for Coulson while he still faced two charges of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office at the time he made the statement.

His social media commentary came after the judge presiding over the phone hacking trial, Mr Justice Saunders, accused the PM of launching “open season” on Andy Coulson and said he was “very concerned” by his response.

“My sole concern is to ensure that justice is done,” Mr Justice Saunders told the PM. “Politicians have other imperatives and I understand that. Whether the political imperative was such that statements could not await all the verdicts, I leave to others to judge.”

He added: “I consider that what has happened is unsatisfactory so far as justice and the rule of law are concerned. The press in court have been extremely responsible in their reporting of this case but when politicians regard it as open season, one cannot expect the press to remain silent.

“I accept that this case is very unusual if not unique, but the situation could occur again and I would urge that discussions take place to try and set up a better system of dealing with it.”

Downing Street said Mr Cameron had taken “the best legal advice” before making his televised statement, but did not confirm whether said advice had come from Attorney General Dominic Grieve.

Former News of the World editor Andy Coulson leaves the Old Bailey in central London, on June 25, 2014.

A spokesperson for the Labour party said Ed Miliband had been careful in his own televised statement so as not to raise issues of Coulson's character or the facts of the trial.

“It seems to us that these are matters between the judge and the Prime Minister,” a senior Labour source told PA. “We were responsible in our reaction to the Prime Minister's statement.”

The jury has since been discharged after failing to reach verdicts on two charges against Coulson and ex News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman of conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office by paying police officers for two royal directories.

A decision on whether there will be a re-trial will be made on Monday.

Fellow former News of the World editor, Rebekah Brooks, was cleared of all charges, as were four other defendents.