Coulson invite 'normal', says Hague

Inviting Andy Coulson to Chequers after his resignation as Downing Street director of communications was a "normal, human thing" for David Cameron to do, Foreign Secretary William Hague said today.

Mr Hague said he was not embarrassed "in any way" by the Government's relationship with News International executives and defended the Prime Minister's decision to entertain Mr Coulson, the former News of the World editor, at his Buckinghamshire retreat in March.



Labour claimed last night that his invite to Chequers was evidence of Mr Cameron's "extraordinary lack of judgment".



But Mr Hague told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "In inviting Andy Coulson back the Prime Minister has invited someone back to thank him for his work, he's worked for him for several years, that is a normal, human thing to do, I think it shows a positive side to his character."



Downing Street has also disclosed that Rebekah Brooks, who resigned yesterday as chief executive of News International, received hospitality at Chequers twice last year, once in June and again in August.



According to a list of prime ministerial engagements, News International chairman James Murdoch also attended Chequers in November.



Ms Brooks and Mr Murdoch met the Prime Minister socially in December. Separately, Ms Brooks met Mr Cameron again the same month.



There were further meetings between Mr Cameron and the editors of News International newspapers The Sun, The Times, News of the World and The Sunday Times.



Asked whether he was embarrassed by the amount of contact between the Government and News International executives, Mr Hague - a former News of the World columnist - said: "Personally I'm not embarrassed by it in any way, but there is something wrong here in this country and it must be put right.



"It's been acknowledged by the Prime Minister and I think that's the right attitude to take."



He added: "It's not surprising that in a democratic country there is some contact between leaders of the country, and indeed opposition leaders, and indeed I believe on that list of meetings there are also meetings with the executives of the Guardian and Trinity Mirror and whatever other news organisations."



Mr Cameron revealed last week that he had met Mr Coulson since his resignation, but "not recently and not frequently".



"When you work with someone for four years as I did, and you work closely, you do build a friendship and I became friends with him," the Prime Minister told a press conference last Friday.



"He became a friend and is a friend."



Amid calls from Labour leader Ed Miliband to apologise for his Downing Street appointment, Mr Cameron insisted he had had no reason to doubt Mr Coulson's assurances that he had no knowledge of hacking under his editorship.



At Prime Minister's Questions in the Commons on Wednesday, Mr Cameron said: "If it turns out he lied, it won't just be that he shouldn't have been in Government, it will be that he should be prosecuted."



Of Mr Coulson's visit to Chequers, shadow culture secretary Ivan Lewis said: "This is yet more evidence of an extraordinary lack of judgment by David Cameron.



"He hosted Andy Coulson at Chequers after, in the Prime Minister's own words, Mr Coulson's second chance hadn't worked out.



"David Cameron may think that this is a good day to bury bad news but he now has an increasing number of serious questions to answer."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
filmPoldark production team claims innocence of viewers' ab frenzy
Life and Style
Google marks the 81st anniversary of the Loch Ness Monster's most famous photograph
techIt's the 81st anniversary of THAT iconic photograph
News
Katie Hopkins makes a living out of courting controversy
people
Voices
All the major parties are under pressure from sceptical voters to spell out their tax and spending plans
voices
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Kevin Spacey and artistic director Matthew Warchus at the Old Vic party to honour Spacey
theatreStar's successor at Old Vic theatre admits he's 'allergic to hype'
Life and Style
life + healthVirginia Ironside's dilemma, during Depression Awareness Week
Arts and Entertainment
The median income for professional writers is just £10,432, less than the minimum wage
booksSurvey reveals authors' earnings
News
i100
Life and Style
fashion
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Office Administrator is requ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - Commercial Vehicles - OTE £40,000

£12000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion and growth of ...

Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - Sheffield - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer position with a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Leader - Plasma Processing

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Operations Leader is required to join a lea...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders