Phone hacking allegations
Asked if the Prime Minister was concerned that Andy Coulson could be distracted today due to the phone hacking allegations, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) said that the reports in the media didn’t change anything for the Prime Minister. Andy Coulson had been clear in denying the allegations made against him.
Asked if in principle there was a rule that meant Andy Coulson would have to stand down as Director of Communications in Downing Street if there were to be a full police investigation, the PMS said that he would not get into hypothetical questions, but he was not aware of any such rule.
Asked if the Prime Minister believed Andy Coulson, the PMS said that Andy Coulson had made his position clear; the Prime Minister had full confidence in Andy Coulson and accepted the position.
Asked if the Prime Minister had sought assurances from Andy Coulson before he put him on the government payroll, the PMS said that Andy Coulson had fulfilled the job in Oppostion, and as we had said before, nothing had changed for the Prime Minister.
Asked if Andy Coulson had offered to resign, the PMS said that allegations had been made and Andy Coulson had denied those allegations so the issue did not arise.
Asked if the police had been in touch with Andy Coulson, the PMS said that he was not aware that they had, but that it would be a matter for the police and Mr Coulson.
Asked why the PMS had said that nothing had changed when someone had come forward with allegations, the PMS said that he had been making it clear that the Prime Minister had full confidence in Mr Coulson. The Assistant Met Commissioner, John Yates had said this morning that they would consider the allegations. That was a matter for the police and obviously the government would not want to comment.
Asked if the Prime Minister would think things had changed if the police reopened the investigation, the PMS said that he was not getting into hypotheticals.
Asked if Andy Coulson had taken legal advice, the PMS said that that was a matter for Andy Coulson, not the government.
Asked if the Prime Minister thought that there was a case for looking at the way the police originally handled the investigation, the PMS said that the previous investigation had been looked at by the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Crown Prosecution Service who had concluded that the investigation had been carried out in a proper and appropriate way.
Asked if Andy Coulson was continuing to do his job, the PMS said that Andy Coulson was in the office today and doing his job as usual.
Asked if the Prime Minister was worried that Andy Coulson was becoming the story, the PMS said that allegations had been made and Andy Coulson had denied them; there was nothing further to add.
Asked if there was a case for Home Secretary to make a statement to the House of Commons, the PMS that there had been an urgent question on this and we would find out if it would go ahead around lunchtime.
Asked for the Prime Minister’s thoughts on the AV vote, the PMS said that the political reform programme was important and we were committed to seeing it through.
Asked if the Prime Minister would vote, the PMS said yes.
Asked if the Prime Minister was confident of getting the bill through the Commons and the Lords before the end of the year, the PMS said that this was an important government bill and it was our intention to see it enacted and proceed with the referendum on the date we had set out.
Asked if the Prime Minister was breaking the end of his paternity leave tonight to vote because he was worried the vote would be close, the PMS said no; it was a reasonably short trip to make the vote.
Put that the Prime Minister hadn’t taken much time off after the birth of his daughter and asked if by doing that he was sending a message to other fathers, the PMS said that the Prime Minister was simply doing what he thought was best for him rather than sending out a wider message.