Coulson knew about hacking, claims former colleague

Phone hacking was rife at Rupert Murdoch's best-selling newspapers The Sun and The News of the World, according to new evidence released by a Commons select committee.

In an account that directly contradicts News International's insistence that the practice was limited to a rogue reporter, a former journalist at the titles said "a lot of people" were intercepting mobile phone messages.

Paul McMullan, whose memorandum from October was published by the Home Affairs Select Committee yesterday, claimed that Andy Coulson, the Prime Minister's former communications director, was aware of the hacking while in senior roles at News International.

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