Coulson In Custody!

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Mounted police charge at sacked printers marching to News International’s Wapping Fortress during the 1986-87 printers struggle for jobs and union rights
Mounted police charge at sacked printers marching to News International’s Wapping Fortress during the 1986-87 printers struggle for jobs and union rights

Police investigating phone hacking and corruption allegations yesterday arrested former News of the World editor Andy Coulson.

Former News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman, jailed for hacking in 2007, was re-arrested over corruption claims.

Coulson is being held in custody.

News of the arrests came as Prime Minister Cameron defended his decision to employ Coulson and announced two inquiries, one led by a judge, into the hacking scandal.

At a Downing Street press conference, Cameron was asked if he ‘screwed up’ in employing Coulson as his press secretary.

Cameron said: ‘People will decide. I decided to give him a second chance but the second chance didn’t work. The decision to hire him was mine and mine alone.’

He was asked whether he thought Rebekah Brooks should remain as News International chief executive, considering she was editor of the News of the World at the time of Milly Dowler’s phone being hacked.

Cameron said there had been reports she had offered her resignation, adding: ‘In this situation I would have taken it.’

He said the judge-led inquiry into the handling of the police investigation ‘can only happen when the police investigation has finished’.

He added that a second inquiry would look at the ethics and culture of the press and that the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) would be scrapped.

News International boss Rupert Murdoch has refused to sack Rebekah Brooks or to take any action against his son, James.

Asked about News Corp’s takeover bid for BSkyB, Cameron said Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt was following ‘the proper legal processes and procedures’.

Repeating a call for Rebekah Brooks to resign, Labour leader Ed Miliband said the PCC was ‘a toothless poodle’.

He added that Cameron ‘is ploughing on regardless on BSkyB. He failed to apologise for the catastrophic mistake of bringing Andy Coulson into the heart of government.’

The NUJ has condemned Murdoch’s closure of the News of the World.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said on Thursday: ‘The announcement James Murdoch should be making today is the dismissal of Rebekah Brooks as chief executive of News International.’

She added: ‘It is ironic that, 25 years after the Wapping dispute, it is the behaviour of Rupert Murdoch and his management that has caused the closure of the newspaper.’

Unite said that ‘News International is targeting BSkyB and is prepared to sacrifice a profitable paper that generates £2 million every week in pursuit of the bigger prize of wall-to-wall TV ownership.’

Len McCluskey, Unite general secretary, commented: ‘The concentration of media ownership which began 25 years ago when Rupert Murdoch sacked 5,500 print workers overnight – enabling News International to generate massive profits which were subsequently used to build a vast right-wing media empire – has created a race to the bottom…Given what government now knows, and with worse set to come, it would therefore be entirely without principle if it were to now waive through the BSkyB merger.’