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Andy Coulson 'assured' David Cameron he knew nothing about News Corp. phone hacking

Andy Coulson, the former News Of the World editor hired by future British Prime Minister David Cameron as his communications director, told Britain's Leveson inquiry into press ethics that he had assured Cameron he knew nothing about phone hacking at the Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid.

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A demonstrator (L) dressed in a Rupert Murdoch mask while holding puppets of British Prime Minister David Cameron and British Minister for Culture, Media and Sport Jeremy Hunt, is pictured during a protest against Murdoch's proposed takeover of BSkyB, in London on July 8, 2011. (Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images)

Andy Coulson, the former News Of the World editor hired by future British prime minister David Cameron as his communications director, told Britain's Leveson inquiry into press ethics that he had assured Cameron he knew nothing about phone hacking at the Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid.

Coulson, who upon Cameron's election to office became director of communications for No. 10 Downing Street, resigned as editor of the paper in January 2007 after its royal reporter and a private investigator were jailed for phone hacking.

Coulson resigned his Downing Street position in January 2011, eight months later as the hacking scandal spiraled.

He denied any personal knowledge of the practice, according to Agence France-Presse.

Coulson was arrested on July 8 last year on suspicion of phone hacking and bribing police and remains on police bail.

As such, lawyers for the inquiry have been told not to ask him questions that could interfere with any criminal proceedings.

According to the Fairfax press, Coulson told the inquiry: “I was able to repeat [to 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 about the case by Cameron or any other Conservatives, he replied, “Not that I can recall.”

The Leveson inquiry has begun a six-week module examining the relationships between press and politicians.

Cameron, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown are all expected to give evidence, as is another former News Corp. executive implicated in the scandal, Rebekah Brooks, with whom both Cameron and Coulson have "close ties," according to the Telegraph.

Cameron has been heavily criticized for appointing Coulson, who resigned from his position saying media focus on hacking made it impossible for him to do his job.

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Meanwhile, the Guardian wrote that Cameron sought no fresh assurances about Coulson's conduct after that paper published stories in 2009 suggesting that phone hacking was rife on Coulson's watch at the tabloid.

And, in related revelations, the Telegraph reported that Coulson was given access to top secret documents and attended meetings of the National Security Council despite passing only basic vetting checks before becoming Cameron’s communications chief.

And, according to the BBC, Coulson told the Leveson Inquiry that he held shares in News Corp. worth around $64, 600 while working as the prime minister's top press officer.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/united-kingdom/120510/andy-coulson-david-cameron-news-corp-phone-hacking-leveson