Phone hacking: Coulson meets the committee
Lily Ash Sakula on the former News of the World editor turned Conservative spin doctor's grilling in Parliament
21 Jul 09

This is a guest post by Lily Ash Sakula

News of the World editors past and present were called before the parliamentary Culture Media and Sport Committee to defend themselves against allegations of widespread illegal practices today [Tuesday 21 July].

Current NotW editor Colin Myler and former editor Andy Coulson insisted jailed reporter Clive Goodman was a rogue operator and had acted alone in hacking the phones of celebrities and royals. Myler also insisted that senior NotW reporter Neville Thurlbeck had “no recollection” of receiving an email of the a transcript of Professional Footballer’s Association chief Gordon Taylor’s voicemail messages (revealed to the committee by Guardian journalist Nick Davies last week) despite the fact the email stated that it was “for Neville”.

Pressed on whether he had ever thought stories at News of the World had been obtained illegally, Myler answered “not really”.

Adam Price MP highlighted the fact that in a story from News of the World “Chelsy tears strip off Harry” a voicemail message between the Princes William and Harry had been quoted verbatim, and asked how the editors could not have been aware of phone hacking when reviewing it. Coulson said he had ‘no recollection’ of this particular story.

Andy Coulson made a short opening statement to the effect that he had “no recollection” of phone tapping occurring while he was editor, that the PCC code was rigorously upheld during his time, and that “he made no apology” for the fact that the News of the World sometimes did pay out large sums of money to get a story. He said he took responsibility for what had gone on under his leadership “without my knowledge” and this had caused his resignation. He also admitted that “mistakes were made” and that “the system could have been better”. At the end of the session Coulson revealed that he had recently been approached by Scotland Yard because there was evidence his own phone was being tapped.