Andy Coulson 'happy to speak to police'

Downing Street communications chief Andy Coulson told police today that he would be happy to meet them voluntarily to discuss fresh phone-hacking allegations.

Friends stressed that he had not been contacted by police, but a spokesman for the former News of the World editor said he would be prepared to co-operate with Scotland Yard following claims by ex-NoW journalist Sean Hoare.

A spokesman for Mr Coulson said: "Andy Coulson has today told the Metropolitan Police that he is happy to voluntarily meet with them following allegations made by Sean Hoare.

"Mr Coulson emphatically denies these allegations. He has, however, offered to talk to officers if the need arises and would welcome the opportunity to give his view on Mr Hoare's claims."

Mr Hoare has claimed Mr Coulson knew of eavesdropping tactics used at the newspaper during his time in charge, something he has consistently denied.











Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner John Yates said today that he would be prepared to investigate Mr Hoare's allegations, which first surfaced in the New York Times.

Mr Coulson came under renewed pressure last week after former journalists told the US paper that the practice of phone hacking was far more extensive than the News of the World acknowledged at the time.



Labour MPs and ex-deputy prime minister Lord Prescott have called for a fresh inquiry, and Lord Prescott is also seeking clarification from the Met over whether his phone was tapped.



Mr Yates told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: "We have always said that if any new material, new evidence, was produced we would consider it."



Of Mr Hoare's allegation, Mr Yates said: "It is new and we will consider it and be consulting with the Crown Prosecution Service before we do.



"This is the first time we have heard of Mr Hoare or anything he has to say. We focused our resources where we thought we could get the best evidence.



"He has come from nowhere. We are surprised that the New York Times did not alert us to this information earlier than they did.



"We have to focus our investigation where we can get the best evidence, not go on a wild goose chase."



He refused to speculate on how many people's phones may have been hacked but stressed : "All I would say is we take our obligations regarding telling victims very seriously.



"There's a misunderstanding here that suggests just because your name features in a private investigator's files, your phone has been hacked.



"The fact that John Prescott's name appears on an invoice does not mean his phone has been hacked. It means he is of interest to a private investigator. That's what private investigators do.



"I believe there is no evidence that his phone has been hacked. I have made that very clear on a number of occasions."



Asked if the original probe had been mishandled, Mr Yates said: "No. I absolutely don't accept that. This was a very, very thorough inquiry. It resulted in the conviction of two people, it resulted in a very complex area of law being clarified and it sent an extremely strong deterrent to other people."



The NoW's former royal editor, Clive Goodman, and a private investigator used by the newspaper were jailed in 2007 following phone hacking revelations.



Mr Coulson said at the time that he had not known of the practice but resigned his editorship, before joining then Tory leader David Cameron as communications boss, moving with him into No 10.



In a statement released today, the News of the World accused the New York Times of being motivated by commercial rivalry.



It said: "The News of the World repeatedly asked the New York Times to provide evidence to support their allegations and they were unable to do so.



"Indeed, the story they published contained no new credible evidence and relied heavily on anonymous sources, contrary to the paper's own editorial guidelines.



"In so doing, they have undermined their own reputation and confirmed our suspicion their story was motivated by commercial rivalry.



"We reject absolutely any suggestion there was a widespread culture of wrongdoing at the News of the World."



Friends of Mr Coulson were keen to stress today that his statement was not prompted by a police approach, and pointed out that a new investigation had not yet even been launched by Scotland Yard.









The Prime Minister's spokesman said today that Mr Cameron was "completely happy with the job Mr Coulson is doing".

The spokesman added: "The reports that have been in the media over the weekend do not change the situation for the Prime Minister. Andy Coulson has been clear in denying the allegations that have been made.



"Clearly, if the police want to look at this, then that is a matter for them and we would not want to interfere."



Mr Yates is bound to be quizzed about the phone-hacking affair when he appears before MPs at the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee tomorrow afternoon, in his role as the yard's Assistant Commissioner for Specialist Operations.



He is due to answer questions about "topical aspects of his role".



There will also be pressure from Labour MPs for the Government to make a Commons statement on the issue this afternoon, on their first day back at Westminster after the summer break.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Recruitment Genius: Production Operative

£13000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to a period of sustained an...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Marketing Content Leader

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This role requires a high level...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent