Former News of the World Editor Andy Coulson Avoided Rigorous Background Checks for Senior-Level Government Job (Report)

3:59 PM PST 07/20/2011 by Stuart Kemp
Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

Rupert Murdoch's former staffer was granted only midlevel security clearance after David Cameron appointed him as director of communications.

LONDON – Andy Coulson, former editor of News of The World, did not face the normal rigorous government security checks and was granted only midlevel security clearance when appointed to a senior government position, according to media reports emerging late Wednesday.

The former editor was appointed by British Prime Minister David Cameron as his director of communications, and the two find themselves at the heart of the media, social and political storm surrounding phone hacking and the relationship between News International and the police in the U.K.

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According to a report in The Guardian, Coulson avoided "developed vetting" involving a detailed interview by government investigators looking for anything in his past that could compromise him.

Such checks would have involved a review of his personal finances and cross-examination by investigators of referees, who could include friends and family.

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Coulson would have been asked by government vetters, some of whom are former police officers, such questions as: "Is there anything else in your life you think it appropriate for us to know?"

Talking in Parliament on Wednesday, Cameron said Coulson had gone through the "basic level of vetting" and was not able to see the "most secret documents in government."

The prime minister added: "It was all done in the proper way; he was subject to the special advisers' code of conduct."

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The Guardian points to the fact that such suggestions will stoke the fires that the prime minister failed to take proper steps to check into Coulson’s immediate past while at News of the World.

Cameron also expressed regret Wedneday at hiring Coulson as his own director of communications in the wake of the phone-hacking “furore.”

He also added that he would be ready to issue a "profound apology" if it turned out he had been misled by Coulson, whom he has described as a friend.

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He said he believed everyone to be innocent until provien guilty. He added that with "20:20 hindsight" he would not have hired Coulson.

Cameron issued a statement about the government's stance on the ongoing phone-hacking storm at an emergency session of Parliament and faced hours of questioning from MPs about several issues raised.

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