BBC News

Coulson charge 'embarrassing' for government

The Conservative chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, John Whittingdale, has said the charges laid against David Cameron's former communications chief Andy Coulson are embarrassing for the government.

"Today's not a great day for the press and it's not a great day for politics," he told The World At One.

"We have seen from the Leveson Inquiry the closeness of the links between this government and, indeed, the last Labour government with senior figures in News International and we wait to see Lord Justice Leveson's recommendations.

"But obviously it is embarrassing the fact that a former director of communications is being charged with criminal offences, but David Cameron has said very clearly that he was assured by Mr Coulson he had no involvement, no knowledge, and he accepted that, and indeed my committee was given the same assurances."

Seven former journalists at the News of the World Newspaper, including Mr Coulson and Rebekah Brooks, the former News International chief executive, are to be formally charged with phone hacking. They will both face charges relating to the voicemail messages of the murdered schoolgirl, Milly Dowler. Mrs Brooks has issued a statement denying her guilt. An eighth person, the private investigator, Glen Mulcaire, is also accused in relation to hacking.