Business statement


Labour has called for there to be uniformity of vetting for Downing Street advisors in the wake of Andy Coulson's conviction for phone hacking.

The party has claimed Coulson did not receive the highest level of security clearance that was given to his predecessors, when David Cameron took him into No 10 in 2010.

Coulson was forced to quit as communications chief a year later after allegations intensified about his knowledge of phone hacking at the News of the World, while editor - which he denied.

Angela Eagle, shadow leader of the House, said Mr Cameron's decision to bring Coulson into the heart of Downing Street raised serious questions about his judgment, during exchanges on business on 26 June 2014.

She called for a statement from the prime minister to explain whether he was advised by any senior civil servants not to employ Coulson, on 26 June 2014.

Coulson was found guilty of conspiracy to hack phones following an eight-month trial.

The jury has been discharged after failing to reach verdicts on outstanding charges against him.

Mr Justice Saunders will hear on Monday whether the Crown Prosecution Service wishes to launch a retrial.

The PM apologised "fully and frankly" for employing Coulson - but Ms Eagle said his statement nearly "wrecked the trial", after the judge rebuked Mr Cameron for commenting on the conviction before the trial had ended.

Replying to Ms Eagle's comments, Leader of the House Andrew Lansley said Mr Cameron had expressed his regret at giving Coulson a second chance "because it was, as it turns out, a misjudgement".

But he stressed that Lord Justice Leveson, who led the inquiry into phone hacking, had made clear the PM employed the former editor based on assurances received, but which turned out to be false.

Mr Lansley said of the PM: "If he had known then what we know now it would have been very different."

Turning to the question of vetting and security clearance, he said this was a matter for civil servants and rejected suggestions the PM "dispensed" with normal procedure.

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