Andy Coulson, formerly editor of the News of the World and one-time director of communications for the UK’s Conservative Party, received thousands of pounds from News Corp.’s British publishing arm, News International, while working for the party, the BBC reports.
Coulson, who was arrested earlier this year for suspected involvement in phone hacking and bribing police officers, left his post at the News of the World in 2007 and then went on to work as the director of communications for the Tories.
The BBC reports that the payments were part of a prolonged severance package, which meant that Coulson continued to be paid while working in government. He received more than $450,000 a year (£275,000), as well as benefits like healthcare and a company car.
Tom Watson, a British MP who has been outspoken on the subject of phone hacking throughout the summer, posted a link on his Twitter feed to his blog, where he posted what James Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks had each told Parliament about the matter. Murdoch denied having any knowledge of Andy Coulson's wages after Coulson left the company while Brooks denied making any payments.
This is not only troublesome for News Corp. but British Prime Minister David Cameron as well. Coulson served as his director of communications after Cameron became prime minister in 2010 but resigned in January as speculation about his role in the phone hacking scandal mounted.
Many have wondered how much Cameron knew about Coulson's involvement in the phone hacking since Coulson resigned shortly before his former royal correspondent, Clive Goodman, was to be imprisoned. Now those questions may be asked again, particularly since Coulson was allegedly receiving the funds while working for Cameron's party (though before the conservatives wrested control of the government away from the Labour party).
Coulson succeeded Rebekah Brooks, who has also been arrested, as editor of the News of the World in 2003. Hacking is believed to have gone on under both of their tenures and both of them hold strong ties to both Murdoch and members of the British government.