Phone hacking allegations
Asked if the Prime Minister agreed with his coalition partners about the need for a quick judicial inquiry into the phone hacking allegations, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) said that the position at the moment was that as of this morning the Metropolitan Police indicated that they would look into the allegations that had been made and if there was fresh evidence to support further investigation. Until they had done that, we would not comment on the matter, as it would not be appropriate.
Asked if Andy Coulson would step down as Director of Communications at No 10 if there were to be a new investigation, the PMS said that the current position was that there had been some allegations made, which the police would look at to see if there was fresh evidence on which to base a further investigation.
Asked if Andy Coulson had spoken to Ministers at the Home Office, the PMS said he was not aware of any conversations.
Asked if the Prime Minister had spoken to Andy Coulson about these fresh allegations, the PMS said that the Prime Minister spoke to Mr Coulson on a regular basis.
Asked if the Prime Minister had checked with the Met Police as to whether or not he was on the list of targets, the PMS said that we had not made those enquiries and there was no intention to do so.
Put that there were thousands of un-chased leads involved in this case, the PMS said that the investigation had already been reviewed by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). As set out in the Home Secretary’s statement, the DPP and CPS concluded that the investigation was proper and appropriate. The Select Committee for Culture. Media and Sport also looked at this and the previous government updated the House on the allegations in July 2009, and decided that they would take no further action at that point.
Asked if the Prime Minister was happy that Andy Coulson knew nothing about phone hacking activities, the PMS said that Andy Coulson had denied the allegations and the Prime Minister accepted that denial.
Asked what Andy Coulson was denying exactly, the PMS said that Mr Coulson had made a personal statement today. The allegation was that he had knowledge of phone hacking at the News of the World, something Mr Coulson denied. This was all a matter of public record and Mr Coulson had given extensive evidence to the Select Committee in the past.
Asked for the Prime Minister’s view on the tube strike, the PMS said that the two sides needed to get together and deal with it as quickly as possible.
Put that the EU Budget Commissioner had said that Britain’s EU rebate was no longer justified, the PMS said that we disagreed with him; we thought the rebate continued to be justified and in the absence of a rebate our net contribution to the EU would be around double that of France’s, and we didn’t think that that was acceptable.