U.K. Prime Minister's Press Secretary Quits Over Wiretapping Scandal

Andy Coulson has resigned as David Cameron's press spokesman over the role he played in the phone-hacking scandal as editor of Rupert Murdoch's News of The World newspaper.


LONDON -- After growing controversy over the role he played in the phone-hacking scandal as editor of Rupert Murdoch's News of The World newspaper, Andy Coulson has resigned as Prime Minister's press secretary, saying his role has become too high profile.

Coulson has come under increasing pressure in recent months, as police widen their investigation into the way the paper's reporters worked, following a succession of civil cases brought by stars including actress Sienna Miller and TV host Chris Tarrant.

As press spokesman for Prime Minister David Cameron, his conduct had become politically sensitive, particularly in light of News Corp's controversial bid for full control of satcaster BSkyB, which Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt is currently deciding.

Hunt has to decide whether allowing News Corp. to own the majority of British newspapers and pay TV operations would be anticompetitive or damaging to the news landscape in the U.K .

The bid's chances of being approved could be damaged it if emerges that abuse of legal practice and illegal wiretapping at one of the U.K.'s biggest newspapers had been allowed to become common practice.

In a statement Friday, Coulsen said that news coverage of the scandal had made it impossible to do his job.

"Unfortunately, continued coverage of events connected to my old job at the News of the World has made it difficult for me to give the 110 per cent needed in this role. I stand by what I've said about those events but when the spokesman needs a spokesman, it's time to move on."

Coulson resigned as editor of the News of The World four years ago when a number of staff were jailed for illegally hacking into the phones of members of the Royal Family, but has always claimed he knew nothing about the practice.