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Leveson Inquiry: David Cameron Did Not Seek Assurances Andy Coulson Was Not Involved In Phone Hacking

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Coulson was not approached by Cameron after the phone hacking story broke | AP

David Cameron did not seek further assurances over his communication chief's links to the phone hacking scandal at the News of the World, despite allegations about legal pay-offs for victims being published in the Guardian, the Leveson Inquiry heard.

Speaking at the inquiry into press standards and media ethics, Andy Coulson, the former News of the World, was asked by Robert Jay QC if the Tory leader has sought assurances after the story broke in July 2009.

"Not that I can recall," Coulson said.

Coulson, who became Cameron's communications manager in 2007, quit his Downing Street post in 2011 after allegation about his involvement in the scandal.

Coulson was also asked about Cameron's admission last July that politicians and the media had become "too close".

The former journalist said the Premier had not expressed similar regret in private before that.

"I don't remember him doing so," he said.

Cameron "frequently" expressed frustration about the amount of time he needed to spend with figures from the media.

Questioned on whether he had seen any contacts he regarded as too close, Coulson responded: "I look at it from the perspective of whether or not there were improper conversations.

"I never saw a conversation, was party to a conversation, that to my mind was inappropriate in that way."

In his written statement, Coulson said he did not think at the time that there was any conflict of interest in taking the communications job.

He had sold all shareholdings in News International by May 2010. But he accepted there was a potential conflict with restricted stock in News Corporation that he was granted as part of his severance package.

That stock "vested" in August 2010 and is worth around £40,000 - although Coulson stressed that he did not know the value while he was working for Downing Street.

"Whilst I didn't consider my holding of this stock to represent any kind of conflict of interest, in retrospect I wish I had paid more attention to it," he said in his statement.

"I was never asked about any share or stock holdings and because I knew that I wasn't involved in any commercial issues, including the BSkyB bid, it never occurred to me that there could be a conflict of interest."

He said he was not involved in the News Corp BSkyB bid "in any way, shape or form", and could not remember dealing with communications issues from it, except the Daily Telegraph's revelation that Business Secretary Vince Cable suggested he was "going to war" on Mr Murdoch.

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