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."

News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
Sport
Romelu Lukaku puts pen to paper
sport
News
Robyn Lawley
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unhappy days: Resistance spy turned Nobel prize winner Samuel Beckett
books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
people
Life and Style
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
gamingOnce stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
News
i100
Life and Style
Phones will be able to monitor your health, from blood pressure to heart rate, and even book a doctor’s appointment for you
techCould our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?
News
people
Extras
indybest
Travel
Ryan taming: the Celtic Tiger carrier has been trying to improve its image
travelRyanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?
Sport
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
Life and Style
Slim pickings: Spanx premium denim collection
fashionBillionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers 'thigh-trimming construction'
News
Sabina Altynbekova has said she wants to be famous for playing volleyball, not her looks
people
News
i100
Life and Style
tech'World's first man-made leaves' could use photosynthesis to help astronauts breathe
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

Senior Investment Accounting Change Manager

£600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

Microsoft Dynamics AX Functional Consultant

£65000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A rare opportun...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star