Piers Morgan: 'It's no secret that I visited my friend Andy Coulson in prison'

The former News of the World editors reunited as Coulson serves sentence

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The Independent Online

Piers Morgan has visited Andy Coulson in prison, saying he makes “no secret” of meeting his friend and fellow former News of the World editor.

Few of Coulson’s ex-colleagues and friends from his days as David Cameron’s communications director and at News International have been so bold, apparently keeping their distance since his conviction for conspiracy to hack phones.

Mr Morgan only made the admission on Twitter following a report in the New Statesman.

“Andy Coulson continues to endure appalling indignities in prison,” Kevin Maguire quipped.

“I hear he was visited by TV’s Piers Morgan.”

The editor-turned-television presenter left American network CNN last week after his show was cancelled following plummeting ratings.

Although the exact date of the visit is not known, it is thought to have been after Coulson’s move to an open prison from Belmarsh, which welcomes visitors with mouth explorations and rectal scans for weapons or contraband.

“No secret, happy to visit my friend,” Mr Morgan wrote on Twitter.

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Andy Coulson outside the Old Bailey

The former chief reporter at the now defunct News of the World, Neville Thurlbeck, was open about his 37 days sharing a cell in Belmarsh with Coulson following his release last month.

He said the disgraced journalist was “in good spirits” and getting on well with other inmates despite the conditions in the Category A prison, which is the highest-security category for facilities in the UK and houses murderers, rapists and other violent criminals.

After his release, Mr Thurlbeck wrote a blog post about his incarceration, saying that he and other jailed journalists did “not belong” in Belmarsh, where they would have stayed in for just days if not for a delay with categorising the prisoners.

He told the Guardian: “[Coulson] is in a prison with people serving life for murder, when … on humanitarian grounds and under rules of the prison service he should be allowed to serve the remainder of his sentence in an open prison where his wife and young children can visit their father and see him existing in a dignified way.”

Coulson was jailed for 18 months in July for conspiracy to hack phones and was expected to serve half the sentence.

Rebekah Brooks walked free from the phone hacking trial at the Old Bailey, which ended in June, while politicians queued up to distance themselves from her former colleague.

The Prime Minister issued a “full and frank apology” to the nation for appointing him as his media adviser and said he took “full responsibility” for the situation, while Ed Miliband accused him of bringing a “criminal into the heart of Downing Street".