My phone was hacked too, Coulson tells MPs

Tory press chief thrust into spotlight of Commons committee

David Cameron's communications chief, Andy Coulson, yesterday admitted that "things went badly wrong" under his editorship of the News of the World – claiming he himself had been a victim of phone hacking.

Giving evidence to MPs investigating allegations that members of his staff had routinely tapped into phones of politicians and celebrities Mr Coulson admitted that mistakes had been made under his watch at the paper, during which his royal editor, Clive Goodman, was jailed along with a private investigator for illegally tapping phones. Mr Coulson resigned in 2007 as a result.

However, Mr Coulson said claims that the practice of phone hacking had been widespread in his newsroom were untrue. "During that time I neither condoned the use of phone hacking and nor do I have any recollection of instances when phone hacking took place," he said.

Mr Coulson also revealed that he had been warned by Scotland Yard that there was "strong evidence" that his own phone had been hacked. "I received a call from Scotland Yard the Friday before last, from a detective superintendent, to be told there is strong evidence to suggest that my phone was hacked," he said.

He admitted, however, that the supervision of payments had not been adequate. "Things went badly wrong under my editorship of the News of the World, I deeply regret it," Mr Coulson said. "When I resigned I gave up a 20-year career with News International and everything that I had worked towards since I was 18. I have to accept that mistakes were made and I have to accept that the system could have been better."

All four News of the World representatives appearing before the Commons Culture Committee yesterday said they had been completely unaware of the £12,300 that Mr Goodman had paid to a private investigator, Glen Mulcaire, for help in tapping the phones of royal aides. "I wasn't able to micro-manage every story and nor did I attempt to," Mr Coulson said. He added that the payments, which were made in cash, had been "unknown to me and concealed from the managing editor". Colin Myler, the current editor of the paper, revealed that he had now clamped down on cash payments, which had been slashed by as much as 89 per cent from the amount handed out under Mr Coulson's editorship.

Mr Coulson also denied any knowledge of the £700,000 out-of-court settlement handed to Gordon Taylor, the head of the Professional Footballers Association, who was one of the victims of the phone hacking carried out by Mr Mulcaire. The settlement means that few details of the case against News International can be made public.

However, James Murdoch, the son of Rupert Murdoch and the executive chairman of News International, was dragged into the row after it emerged that he agreed that the payout should go ahead. "James Murdoch was apprised of the situation and agreed with our recommendation to settle," Mr Myler said. "It was an agreed collective decision."

Tory aides were confident last night that his appearance marked the end of the matter for Mr Coulson, who has become critical to Mr Cameron's operation. However, the committee threatened to bring the Tory leader's communications director back if more questions arise as a result of their inquiry into phone tapping.

News International was accused of coming "very close" to attempting to interfere with the inquiry after it demanded that one of the MPs sitting on the committee be removed. It had requested the removal of the Labour MP Tom Watson, as he is currently in dispute with The Sun, also owned by News International. During the proceedings, the paper's former managing editor, Stuart Kuttner, also asked for the Tory MP Philip Davies to be barred from asking questions. Mr Kuttner said that comments made by Mr Davies, suggesting that his resignation had been linked to the fresh accusations of phone hacking, indicated he had prejudged the matter. Both requests were turned down.

Awkward questions remained for Scotland Yard after Mr Myler confirmed that no other New of the World staff were even questioned during its investigation into the phone tapping scandal, raising questions over its refusal to reopen the 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: 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 ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Hire Manager - Tool Hire

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is seeking someone w...

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