Cameron aide in phone hacking row

Ex-Ministers call for Tory director of communications to be sacked after allegations

David Cameron was last night facing calls for his director of communications to be sacked amid a row over telephone hacking.

The demands followed a series of allegations about journalists at News International, which includes the News of the World, being involved in telephone hacking. It has been alleged that News Group Newspapers, part of News International, paid out more than £1m to settle legal claims which threatened to reveal journalists' involvement in hacking into phones.

Andy Coulson, now the Conservative leader's communications chief, was deputy editor and then editor of the News of the World during the period hacking was claimed to have taken place.

John Prescott, the former Prime Minister, last night called for Mr Cameron to sack Mr Coulson, saying: "I hope Mr Cameron will clear him out," he said.

Private investigators are alleged to have carried out the phone hacking for journalists. Cabinet ministers including Mr Prescott and Tessa Jowell, the former culture secretary, were said to be among those targeted, as were MPs from all three main political parties.

Mr Prescott, responding to claims that the police knew his phone had been monitored, was appaled that none of the officers had bothered to inform him.

"I find it staggering that there could be a list known to the police of people who had their phone tapped," he told Channel 4 News. "For such a criminal act not to be reported to me... reflects very badly on the police. I want to know their answer."

Geoff Hoon, the former transport secretary, joined the calls for Mr Coulson to go. "It is hard to see how Andy Coulson can continue as David Cameron's communications chief," he said. "Mr Cameron must make clear what action he intends to take."

Similarly, the former home secretary Charles Clarke said the allegations of "phone bugging" were "sensational" and that if true it would mean the behaviour of some senior executives was "disappointing, immoral and probably illegal".

He demanded the newspaper group publish a full list of everyone who had been targeted and said: "Mr Cameron now has to make his contribution to cleaning up public life by sacking his media adviser Andy Coulson who is closely implicated in this utterly unacceptable behaviour."

In 2007 Clive Goodman, the royal editor at the News of the World, was jailed for plotting to hack into telephone messages belonging to royal aides. During the hearing it was revealed that a number of public figures had telephone messages illegally intercepted by Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator.

It has been alleged by The Guardian that Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the Professional Footballers Association, received a £700,000 settlement from News Group Newspapers.

But Mr Coulson, who resigned when Mr Goodman was jailed, said yesterday that he was unaware of a settlement with Mr Taylor. He added: "The Mulcaire case was investigated thoroughly by the police and by the Press Complaints Commission. I took full responsibility at the time for what happened on my watch but without my knowledge and resigned."

Two other settlements amounting to £300,000 are alleged to have been agreed with other claimants.After the trial News International executives maintained to a parliamentary select committee and the Press Complaints Commission that Mr Goodman was the only journalist involved and that he acted without their knowledge. Yesterday, however, there were allegations that a number of journalists may have been involved with hacking.

John Whittingdale, the Conservative chairman of the Commons Culture Select Committee, said it would consider the alleged revelations today. "I am concerned. We were given an absolute assurance by News International, by the chairman of the company, that no other journalist at the News of the World had any knowledge, and that an inquiry had been made, and it was solely Clive Goodman who had been involved."

A spokeswoman for News International said last night: "News International feels it is inappropriate to comment at this time."

Mr Whittingdale added that the allegations "raised very serious questions" and he hoped to reopen a Parliamentary inquiry.

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

Recruitment Genius: Technical Author / Multimedia Writer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This recognized leader in providing software s...

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

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