PRIME minister Cameron’s former press secretary Andy Coulson yesterday won a ruling that he can appeal against News International’s refusal to pay his legal fees.
Coulson appears at the Leveson Inquiry tomorrow, where he faces questions about his relationship with Cameron and other politicians and his editorship of the News of the World.
Coulson was editor from 2003 until he resigned in January 2007, after the paper’s royal reporter Clive Goodman pleaded guilty to phone-hacking related charges and was jailed.
Four months later Cameron appointed Coulson as his director of communications, a position he held during the May 2010 election campaign and the News Corp bid for BSkyB, only resigning in January 2011, saying the phone-hacking scandal was making the job impossible.
News Group Newspapers, the News International subsidiary that published the News of the World, stopped legal payments to Coulson in August last year, which Coulson claims is breach of contract.
Coulson, who was in court for the short hearing yesterday, is appealing against a ruling by Mr Justice Supperstone at the High Court in December, which found that he was liable to pay his own potential legal costs over the phone-hacking affair.
His appeal centres on the severance agreement with News Group Newspapers on 26 January 2007, signed two days before he resigned as editor of the News of the World.
Supperstone agreed with News International that a clause in the agreement covered only Coulson’s ‘lawful duties’ as editor and that allegations of criminal activity fell outside the scope of the contract.
But Court of Appeal judges said on Tuesday that Coulson has an ‘arguable case’ which should go before three judges at a full one-day hearing, for which no date was set.
Coulson reportedly put his £1.6m south London home up for sale in December, following the high court ruling that he should pay his own potential legal bills.
He was arrested and bailed on 8th July 2011 by the Metropolitan Police in connection with conspiracy to unlawfully intercept communications and payments to police officers.
Rebekah Brooks appears before the Leveson inquiry on Friday and will be asked many questions about her relationship with Tory leader Cameron.
She is believed to have handed over a number of e-mails between the two.
So serious is the situation that the government will have its own barrister at the inquiry, and since being given the status of ‘core participant’ will have seen such e-mails before Brooks appears.