Date: May 12 2012
THE then opposition leader, David Cameron, had asked a former News of the World editor, Andy Coulson, about phone hacking before he hired him in 2007, the Leveson inquiry into the media has been told.
Mr Coulson had resigned from Rupert Murdoch's tabloid a few months earlier, after his royalty editor and a private investigator were jailed for hacking the voicemails of officials at Buckingham Palace.
Mr Coulson has always denied knowing about it, but said at the time that he resigned to take responsibility for it having occurred on his watch.
He told the inquiry: ''I was able to repeat [to Mr Cameron] what I had said publicly, that I knew nothing about the Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire case in terms of what they did.''
Asked whether he was questioned again by Mr Cameron or any other Conservatives, he replied: ''Not that I can recall.''
Mr Cameron, who later became prime minister, has been heavily criticised for the appointment since Mr Coulson was arrested on allegations of hacking and payments to police at the News of the World. Mr Coulson resigned at No.10 in January, saying media focus on hacking made it impossible for him to do his job.
Robert Jay, QC, put it to Mr Coulson that Mr Cameron had hired him because of his strong links with Rebekah Brooks, who was then editor of another Murdoch newspaper, The Sun , and was later made chief executive of News International.
Mr Jay said politicians sought the support of The Sun because it had the highest number of ''floating'' voters in its readership. Mrs Brooks was due to appear before the inquiry overnight. Mr Coulson denied Mr Jay's suggestion that his relationship with News International was ''the elephant in the room'' when he was being interviewed for the job.
On whether Mrs Brooks had influenced the matter, he said: ''Not that I can recall, no.'' But he acknowledged it was a mistake to have overlooked the fact that he held 40,000 shares in News International while he worked for the Conservatives.
The explanation was that his job in opposition was ''a busy one, and my job in government was busier still, and I didn't take time to look at my circumstances, and I should have''.
Earlier Mr Jay had said that Mr Murdoch suffered ''selective amnesia'' around his meeting with Margaret Thatcher, when she was prime minister, in 1981.
''If you accept Mr Murdoch's evidence on this topic, the point goes no further. If you do not, the consequences … go wide-ranging,'' Mr Jay said.
He said that inferences might be drawn about Mr Murdoch's true intentions and were ''capable of bearing on Mr Murdoch's integrity''.
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