July 8, 2011 / 12:09 PM / 8 years ago

Andy Coulson: from editor to arrest via Downing Street

(Reuters) - Andy Coulson, the British prime minister’s former communications chief, has been arrested by detectives investigating allegations of phone hacking at the Sunday tabloid, the News of the World, where he had been editor before taking up his job at Number 10.

Former News of the World newspaper editor Andy Coulson, who resigned as British Prime Minister David Cameron's communications chief last week, leaves his home in London January 27, 2011. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

Here are some facts on Coulson, who is 43:

PHONE HACKING ARREST

* Coulson, who edited the News of the World from 2003 to 2007, was arrested on Friday at a police station in south London on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications and suspicion of corruption.

* The day before, the newspaper announced it was to shut down after 168 years in print after companies pulled their adverts in response to a public outcry at claims the tabloid hacked into the mobile voicemails of child murder victims and the families of Britain’s war dead.

* The morning of his arrest, the prime minister held a news conference in which he explained why he had given Coulson a job despite a News of the World reporter having been jailed in January 2007 for illegally listening to voicemail messages, saying he had wanted to give the newsman a “second chance.”

NEWS OF THE WORLD RESIGNATION

* Coulson resigned as editor of the News of the World in January 2007 following the jailing of the reporter and a private detective for secretly listening to mobile phone messages of royal household staff to try to get exclusive stories for the newspaper.

* Coulson denied being aware of any wrongdoing but said he took “ultimate responsibility” for what happened at the paper, part of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp media group.

HIRED BY CAMERON

* Coulson became the Conservative Party’s director of communications in May 2007 when the center-right party was in opposition. He took up a new job in the government as director of communications and planning in July 2010 after a Conservative-led coalition took power.

* Coulson was paid 140,000 pounds ($222,000) per year — almost the same as the prime minister — and was seen as a key member of Cameron’s inner circle.

* He was seen as having a talent for helping to get the government’s message across to ordinary Britons.

PHONE TAPPING REVISITED

* Coulson told a parliamentary committee in July 2009 he believed phone hacking was the work of a “rogue reporter.”

* The New York Times reported in September 2010 that the practice was widespread at the News of the World, and police interviewed Coulson in November 2010 over allegations he encouraged reporters to hack into telephone messages. In December, police said there was not enough evidence to charge Coulson with any crime.

* In January, 2011, the News of the World sacked senior editor Ian Edmondson, named in a lawsuit by film star Sienna Miller, who accused the paper of breaking into her voicemail account to hear her messages.

LIFE DETAILS:

* Born on January 21, 1968, Coulson was brought up in Essex, near London, and educated at a state school. He worked for a local paper before stints at The Sun and Daily Mail tabloids. He became editor of News of the World in 2003.

Reporting by David Cutler; Editing by Michael Roddy

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