Andy Coulson told Cameron 'no guarantee' of News International support

Andy Coulson warned David Cameron that his News International links should not be seen as a guarantee of coverage, he told the Leveson Inquiry this afternoon.

Andy Coulson: speaking at Leveson Inquiry
Andy Coulson: speaking at Leveson Inquiry

Cameron’s former Downing Street comms chief Coulson spoke publicly for the first time today since being arrested over phone hacking allegations.

Under questioning, Coulson said: ‘I do remember explaining that my News International background – this was not suggested by Mr Osborne or Mr Cameron, but me - should not been seen as a guarantee of the support of those papers.’

Coulson was approached by George Osborne in 2007 after resigning as editor of the News of the World six months earlier.

He told the inquiry that upon being approached by Osborne, he was initially ‘reluctant’ but grew in enthusiasm about the idea. He added that that former GLA comms man Guto Harri - who resigned this week - was initially approached to take the role as he was expected to leave his post aiding Boris Johnson.

Coulson said that he told Cameron and Osborne that he believed TV would be a key factor in the 2010 election and added that the party had ‘a mountain to climb’ to win it. He added that he thought he was picked by Cameron because he ‘had been the editor of a national newspaper for a number of years that involved politics’.

‘I was dealing in issues, I ran campaigns and I aimed to be in tune with the readership of a newspaper that was vast and those things I’m sure were attractive,’ he said. ‘I was hardly the pioneer of the route from journalism to politics.’

Speaking about The Sun backing the Tories at the time of the Labour Party conference, Coulson said: ‘It was seriously positive for us, but in truth I though it was not the front page I would have wanted nor was it the timing.

‘I would have preferred for them to do it in a different way and at a different time – I would have liked for them to do it at our conference.’

The inquiry also heard that Coulson had shared a ‘warm’ professional relationship with Rupert Murdoch during his time at the paper. 

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