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Andy Coulson

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Andy Coulson
Downing Street Director of Communications
In office
11 May 2010 – 21 January 2011
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Preceded bySimon Lewis
Succeeded byCraig Oliver
Personal details
Andrew Edward Coulson

(1968-01-21) 21 January 1968 (age 56)
Billericay, Essex, England
Political partyConservative
Eloise Patrick
(m. 2000)
OccupationJournalist, newspaper editor

Andrew Edward Coulson (born 21 January 1968)[2][3] is an English journalist and political strategist.

Coulson was the editor of the News of the World from 2003 to 2007, following the conviction of one of the newspaper's reporters in relation to illegal phone-hacking. He subsequently joined David Cameron's personnel as communications director, until announcing his departure on 21 January 2011 because of continued media coverage of the phone-hacking affair.[4][5] The overall impact from his tenure came to be known as the "Coulson effect".[6][7]

Coulson was arrested by the Metropolitan Police Service on 8 July 2011 in connection with allegations of corruption and phone hacking.[8] He was detained and charged with perjury by Strathclyde Police on 30 May 2012 in relation to evidence he had given in the trial of Scottish politician Tommy Sheridan in 2010, and cleared on 3 June 2015.[9][10][11][12]

In June 2014 at the Old Bailey, Coulson was found guilty of a charge of conspiracy to intercept voicemails (phone-hacking).[13] He was sentenced on 4 July 2014 to 18 months in prison.[14] On 30 June 2014, it was announced that he would face a retrial over two counts of conspiring to cause misconduct in public office – in relation to the alleged purchase of confidential royal phone directories in 2005 from a palace police officer – after the jury in the original trial was unable to reach a verdict on them.[15]

Coulson was also tried over charges that he committed perjury in the evidence he gave in HM Advocate v Sheridan and Sheridan in 2010.[16][17] This trial started on 11 May 2015 because of the general election.[18] On 3 June 2015, he was cleared of those perjury charges, since, if he had lied, it would not have been relevant to the outcome.[9]

Early life


Coulson grew up in Wickford, Essex.[19] He attended Beauchamps High School, a secondary school and sixth form college, from 1979 to 1986. Coulson's parents moved from their Basildon council house to nearby Wickford during his childhood.[2]



Coulson started work at 18 as a junior reporter on the Basildon Echo in 1986. In 1988, he moved to The Sun, working with Piers Morgan on the showbiz column Bizarre. In 1994, he briefly moved to the Daily Mail, but after nine weeks moved back to The Sun to edit Bizarre. He hired Dominic Mohan, who was later promoted to editor.[20]

News of the World


He became deputy editor of the News of the World, the Sunday sister paper of The Sun, in 2000.[21] Coulson replaced Rebekah Wade as editor in 2003. In an interview with the Press Gazette in 2005, he said that "tabloid newspapers in this country do more for its people than any other newspapers in the world".[21]

Coulson resigned on 26 January 2007 over the News of the World phone hacking affair which would several weeks later see the jailing for four months of the paper's Royal correspondent Clive Goodman. Private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, remunerated by the newspaper, was given a custodial sentence of six months.[22]

On 21 July 2009 Coulson appeared in front of the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee and denied any knowledge of the phone hacking scandal, saying "my instructions to the staff were clear – we did not use subterfuge of any kind unless there was a clear public interest in doing so. They were to work within the PCC code at all times".[23]

In 2008 an employment tribunal upheld a claim of bullying by Coulson while he was at the News of The World. A Stratford employment tribunal upheld a claim of unfair dismissal claimed by senior sports writer Matt Driscoll, and stated "We find the behaviour to have been a consistent pattern of bullying behaviour".[24] The judgement singled out Coulson for making "bullying" remarks in an email to Driscoll. The paper was told to pay Driscoll £800,000.[25]

Conservative Party communications director


Coulson became the Conservative Party's director of communications on 9 July 2007. Various media stories estimated his salary at between £275,000[26] and £475,000; the party indicated the latter figure was "inaccurate" and that his salary was "substantially less" but refused to provide an exact figure.[27]

Downing Street Director of Communications


After David Cameron became Prime Minister in May 2010, he appointed Coulson as Director of Communications for the government at 10 Downing Street. His pay was £140,000, the highest paid special advisor.[28]

Coulson announced his resignation on 21 January 2011. He commented about the News of the World allegations "I stand by what I've said about those events but when the spokesman needs a spokesman it's time to move on."[29][30]

In July 2011 questions were raised about Coulson's security vetting at Number Ten. He had not been subjected to the highest level of vetting, "developed vetting", allowing unrestricted access to top secret material. His predecessors had had the highest level of vetting, as did his successor and (after his departure) his deputy. The Guardian said that the disclosure "is understood to have 'absolutely shocked' some Whitehall information staff."[31] According to Chris Bryant MP, senior officials working with Coulson believed that he had the same clearance level as his predecessor.[32] It later emerged that he was still being paid by News International while working for the then opposition leader.[33]

Prior to the jury handing down their verdict after Coulson's trial, Cameron issued a "full and frank" apology for hiring Coulson, saying "I am extremely sorry that I employed him. It was the wrong decision and I am very clear about that." The judge hearing Coulson's trial was critical of the prime minister, pondering whether the intervention was out of ignorance or deliberate, and demanded an explanation.[34]

Private consultancy


On 7 February 2011, Coulson and his wife established 'Elbrus Consultants Ltd'. The purpose of the company is not recorded by Companies House, but is reportedly a public relations agency.[35] Clients include 'One Young World'.[36] Kate Robertson of One Young World told The Guardian "He can't do One Young World work at the moment, that is absolutely clear".[37]

In January 2016, Coulson launched a new corporate PR agency offering communications strategy services in partnership with Henry Chappell, Coulson Chappell.[38] In March 2017, Coulson Chappell was awarded a contract by the Telegraph Media Group (TMG) to improve the standing of the company's publications, The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Telegraph.[39]

Renewed allegations on phone hacking


As the Conservative Party's director of communications, Coulson continued to be subjected to allegations that he was aware of the hacking of phones while serving as the editor of News of the World. On 7 July 2009, John Prescott called on leader of the Conservative Party David Cameron to remove Coulson from his position, after The Guardian revealed further details about phone-hacking by the News of the World.[40] Cameron, though, defended Coulson on the morning of 9 July: "I believe in giving people a second chance. As director of communications for the Conservatives he does an excellent job in a proper, upright way at all times."[41]

On 1 September 2010, The New York Times printed new allegations from former News of the World reporters alleging that Coulson had "actively encouraged" reporters to illegally intercept voicemail messages, and that he "was present during discussions about phone hacking".[42] Coulson has denied these latest claims.[43] Sean Hoare, – showbusiness reporter at News of the World during Coulson's reign – speaking on Five Live, who accused Coulson of lying, has said that indeed Coulson did not ask him to phone hack but veiled his request in "metaphorical language" and asked him to practise his "dark arts".[44] And Clive Goodman, in a letter from 2007: "The practice was widely discussed in the daily editorial conference, until explicit reference to it was banned by the editor."[45]

A report aired on Channel 4's Dispatches in October included remarks made by an unnamed source, said to have been a former senior journalist at the News of the World who worked alongside Coulson. The source alleged that Coulson had personally listened to messages obtained through phone hacking.[46][47]

He was a witness in HM Advocate v Sheridan and Sheridan, where he denied under oath that he had any knowledge of phone hacking at the News of the World, or that he knew Glenn Mulcaire, the private detective at the centre of controversy.[48]

However, the Crown Prosecution Service said in December 2010 that it had determined that there was insufficient evidence to charge Coulson over allegations that he was aware of phone-hacking at the publication. The CPS said that witnesses interviewed by Metropolitan Police – including those who had previously made allegations through media outlets – had not been willing to provide admissible evidence.[49]

The Guardian reported on 7 July 2011 that Coulson was to be arrested the following day, along with a senior journalist whom the paper refused to name.[50]

Coulson was arrested at Scotland Yard at 10:30 am on 8 July 2011.[51] He was questioned under caution, and later that day released on police bail until October, but made no comment on his release.[52]

On 24 July 2012, Coulson was charged along with seven others for "conspiring to intercept communications without lawful authority from 3 October 2000 to 9 August 2006."[53] These charges were made about 1 year after the Metropolitan Police Service reopened its dormant investigation into phone hacking,[54] about 3 years after the then Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service told the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee that "no additional evidence has come to light,"[55] 5 years after Coulson and News International executives began claiming that phone hacking was the work of a single "rogue reporter,"[56] 10 years after The Guardian began reporting that the Met had evidence of widespread illegal acquisition of confidential information,[57] and 13 years after the Met began accumulating "boxloads" of that evidence, including sources for News of the World journalists while Coulson was editor, but kept it unexamined in trash bags at Scotland Yard.[58]

Coulson's trial over the phone-hacking claims started in October 2013.[59] In June 2014, Coulson was found guilty of one charge of conspiracy to intercept voicemails and he was sentenced to 18 months in prison on 4 July 2014.[14] On 21 November 2014, Coulson was released from prison having served less than five months of his 18-month prison sentence. It was reported that as a condition of his early release on home detention curfew (HDC) Coulson would have to wear an electronic tag until he had served half of his full sentence.[60][61]

Coulson was to face a retrial, together with the News of the World's former royal editor Clive Goodman, after the jury failed to agree a verdict on two other charges of conspiring to cause misconduct in public office in relation to the alleged purchase of confidential royal phone directories in 2005 from a palace police officer.[15] Other defendants were cleared.[13] On 17 April 2015, the Crown Prosecution Service announced that Coulson's retrial was to be scrapped, along with that of Goodman and the trials of seven other journalists.[62]

Perjury trial


Coulson was charged with having committed perjury during the trial in 2010 of Tommy and Gail Sheridan. He was scheduled to stand trial in April 2015 but the trial was postponed to 11 May 2015 because of the general election.[18]

On 1 June 2015, the judge, Lord Burns, acquitted Coulson. However, the acquittal was suspended while the Crown considered whether to appeal the decision and was therefore not announced until 3 June. Explaining his ruling, Lord Burns said that for Coulson to be found guilty it was necessary for the Crown to prove that the allegedly untrue evidence he had given at the 2010 Sheridan trial had been relevant to the issues in it. The judge added that it was for him, and not the jury, to decide on this aspect of the case and that the Crown's legal submissions had failed to satisfy him that Coulson's evidence had been sufficiently relevant to the Sheridan trial. Speaking outside the court, Coulson said: "I'm just delighted that after four pretty testing years my family and myself have finally had a good day". He added that the case against him had been a "waste of money".[9]


Coulson was portrayed by Andrew Bone in the 2015 Channel 4 television film Coalition.[63]

Coulson was name-checked by Alan Partridge (Steve Coogan) in an episode of This Time with Alan Partridge (Series 02, Episode 02) during an introduction to a segment about law and order.

Personal life


Coulson married his wife, Eloise, in 2000, with whom he has three children.[1] In October 2013, it was revealed that Coulson had had an affair with Rebekah Brooks that lasted from 1998 to 2007.[1][64]

See also



  1. ^ a b c "Phone hacking trial reveals married Brooks affair with Andy Coulson". BBC. 31 October 2013. Retrieved 31 October 2013.
  2. ^ a b Adams, Guy (2 June 2007). "Andy Coulson: Blue-eyed boy". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 15 March 2010. Retrieved 25 April 2010.
  3. ^ Robinson, James (3 June 2010). "The Tories bring on new spinner". The Observer. London. Retrieved 30 November 2010.
  4. ^ "Coulson resigns due to phone-hacking scandal". The Spy Report. Media Spy. 21 January 2011. Archived from the original on 15 April 2013. Retrieved 21 January 2011.
  5. ^ "Coulson Quits No 10 Over Phone-Hack Pressure". Sky News. 21 January 2011. Retrieved 21 January 2011.
  6. ^ Alan McGaul (22 September 2011). "Alan McGauley: This marriage of convenience is ending in tears". Yorkshirepost.co.uk. Retrieved 9 November 2016.
  7. ^ John Harris (3 November 2007). "The odd couple". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 November 2016.
  8. ^ Siddique, Haroon; Gabbatt, Adam; Quinn, Ben (8 July 2011). "News of the World phone-hacking scandal – live updates". guardian.co.uk. London: Guardian News and Media Ltd. Archived from the original on 8 July 2011. Retrieved 8 July 2011.
  9. ^ a b c "Andy Coulson cleared of perjury as trial collapses". BBC News. 3 June 2015.
  10. ^ "Andy Coulson charged in Tommy Sheridan trial perjury inquiry". BBC News. 30 May 2012. Retrieved 15 July 2013.
  11. ^ Rose, Gareth (31 May 2012). "Scottish police charge Andy Coulson with Tommy Sheridan trial perjury". scotsman.com. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  12. ^ Carrell, Severin; Wintour, Patrick (30 May 2012). "Andy Coulson charged with perjury". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  13. ^ a b "Hacking trial: Coulson guilty, Brooks cleared of charges". BBC. 24 June 2014.
  14. ^ a b "Andy Coulson jailed for 18 months over phone hacking". BBC News. 4 July 2014.
  15. ^ a b Lisa O’Carroll, (June 2014). "Andy Coulson to face retrial over alleged payments to public officials", The Guardian, 30 June 2014, Accessed 30 June 2014
  16. ^ Ian Burrell, "Andy Coulson guilty in phone hacking trial: His future may well depend on a level of privacy denied the hacking victims", The Independent 24 June 2014
  17. ^ BBC News (July 2014). "Andy Coulson to face perjury charges over the Tommy Sheridan trial", BBC News, 7 July 2014. Accessed 7 July 2014
  18. ^ a b "Andy Coulson perjury trial delayed until after general election". The Guardian. 13 April 2015. Retrieved 6 May 2015.
  19. ^ "Profile: Andy Coulson". BBC News. BBC. 8 July 2011. Archived from the original on 14 July 2011. Retrieved 15 July 2011.
  20. ^ Ian Burrell (25 February 2012). "Dominic Mohan: Last man standing". The Independent. Archived from the original on 7 May 2022.
  21. ^ a b Gibson, Owen (29 April 2005). "The Guardian profile: Andy Coulson". The Guardian. London.
  22. ^ "Pair jailed over royal phone taps". BBC News. 26 January 2007.
  23. ^ "Coulson 'didn't condone hacking'". BBC News. 21 July 2009.
  24. ^ Fitzsimmons, Caitlin (18 December 2008). "Ex-editor Andy Coulson bullied News of the World reporter, rules tribunal". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 8 July 2009.
  25. ^ The Guardian, 23 November 2009, News of the World faces £800,000 payout in bullying case
  26. ^ Hope, Christopher (10 June 2010). "Andy Coulson takes £135,000 pay cut to join Coalition". The Telegraph. London. Retrieved 11 July 2011.
  27. ^ Helm, Toby (2 June 2007). "'£475,000 Coulson' row adds to woes". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 11 July 2011.
  28. ^ "David Cameron's PR director Andy Coulson paid £140,000". BBC. 10 June 2010. Retrieved 10 June 2010.
  29. ^ Coulson Resigns From Downing Street Job 21 January 2011
  30. ^ "Andy Coulson quits Downing Street communications role". BBC. 21 January 2011. Archived from the original on 22 January 2011. Retrieved 21 January 2011.
  31. ^ The Guardian, 22 July 2011, Pressure mounts on David Cameron over Andy Coulson's security level
  32. ^ The Observer, 24 July 2011, Fears over Andy Coulson's clearance as officials admit: We thought he had been vetted
  33. ^ Robinson, James; Curtis, Polly (23 August 2011). "Andy Coulson reportedly paid by News International when hired by Tories". The Guardian. London.
  34. ^ "David Cameron has explaining to do over apology for hiring Andy Coulson". The London News.Net. Archived from the original on 27 June 2014. Retrieved 27 June 2014.
  35. ^ Cartmell, Matt (8 April 2011). "Andy Coulson could remain 'the story' for Elbrus Consultants' clients, expert warns". PRWeek. London.
  36. ^ "Andy Coulson's new PR business Elbrus Consultants under pressure". Marketing Magazine. London. 11 July 2011.
  37. ^ Helm, Toby; Boffey, Daniel (9 July 2011). "Phone hacking: I warned No 10 over Coulson appointment, says Ashdown". The Guardian. London.
  38. ^ Kevin Rawlinson (21 January 2016). "Former NoW editor Andy Coulson sets up PR firm". The Guardian.
  39. ^ Greenslade, Roy (29 March 2017). "Andy Coulson hired as Telegraph PR adviser". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
  40. ^ Davies, Caroline (8 July 2009). "David Cameron urged to sack Tory spin doctor Andy Coulson". London: guardian online. Archived from the original on 11 July 2009. Retrieved 8 July 2009.
  41. ^ James Robinson and Andrew Sparrow "News of the World phone hacking – Andy Coulson may be grilled by MPs", The Guardian, 9 July 2009.
  42. ^ Don Van Natta Jr., et al. "Tabloid Hack Attack on Royals, and Beyond", The New York Times, 1 September 2010.
  43. ^ Haroon Siddique "Phone hacking claims: John Prescott calls for police conduct inquiry", The Guardian, 3 September 2010.
  44. ^ Hoare speaking on Five Live, Drive, 3 September 2010. Hoare was found dead at home on 18 July 2011.
  45. ^ "Full text of Clive Goodman's letter to News International". The Independent. 23 October 2011. Archived from the original on 7 May 2022. Retrieved 15 December 2020.
  46. ^ Davies, Nick (3 October 2010). "Phone-hacking scandal: Andy Coulson 'listened to intercepted messages'". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 4 October 2010. Retrieved 5 October 2010.
  47. ^ "Andy Coulson listened to hacked messages, former colleague says". The Spy Report. Media Spy. 4 October 2010. Archived from the original on 10 November 2010. Retrieved 5 October 2010.
  48. ^ Carrell, Severen; Davies, Nick (9 December 2010). "Andy Coulson denies phone hacking at Tommy Sheridan trial". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 August 2023.
  49. ^ "Coulson won't be prosecuted over phone-hacking". The Spy Report. Media Spy. 11 December 2010. Archived from the original on 15 April 2013. Retrieved 11 December 2010.
  50. ^ Hill, Amelia (7 July 2011). "Andy Coulson to be arrested over phone hacking tomorrow". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 7 July 2011. Retrieved 7 July 2011.
  51. ^ "Coulson And Goodman Released in NOTW Probe". 8 July 2011. Retrieved 8 July 2011.
  52. ^ Hughes, Mark (8 July 2011). "News of the World phone hacking: Andy Coulson arrested and his computer seized". The Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 9 July 2011.
  53. ^ "Alison Levitt QC's announcement on charges arising from Operation Weeting" (Press release). Crown Prosecution Service. 24 July 2012. Archived from the original on 12 August 2011. Retrieved 24 July 2012.
  54. ^ "Statement from Commissioner" (Press release). Metropolitan Police. 6 July 2011. Retrieved 21 August 2011.
  55. ^ "Examination of Witnesses (Question Numbers 1889–1899)-Assistant Commissioner John Yates and Detective Chief Superintendent Philip Williams". UK Parliament. 2 September 2009. Retrieved 27 August 2011.
  56. ^ Sabbagh, Dan (13 March 2012). "Phone-hacking: how the 'rogue reporter' defence slowly crumbled". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 17 July 2012.
  57. ^ McLagan, Graeme (20 September 2002). "Fraudster squad- Graeme McLagan on the black economy run by corrupt police and private detectives". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 28 August 2011.
  58. ^ Davies, Nick (8 June 2011). "Phone-hacking scandal widens to include Kate Middleton and Tony Blair". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 20 August 2011.
  59. ^ "Phone-hacking: Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson in 2013 trial". BBC. 26 September 2012. Retrieved 26 September 2012.
  60. ^ Sweney, Mark (21 November 2014). "Andy Coulson leaves prison after serving five months of 18-month term". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 21 November 2014.
  61. ^ "Andy Coulson freed from prison". BBC News. 21 November 2014.
  62. ^ "Operation Elveden: Nine journalists have cases dropped". BBC News. 17 April 2015. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
  63. ^ Coalition, 28 March 2015, retrieved 25 May 2019
  64. ^ "Coulson and Brooks affair 'lasted longer' than earlier suggested". BBC. 25 April 2014. Retrieved 25 April 2014.
Media offices
Preceded by Deputy Editor of the News of the World
Succeeded by
Preceded by Editor of the News of the World
Succeeded by
Government offices
Preceded by Downing Street Director of Communications
Succeeded by