Chris Huhne: There Were Reputational Issues With Andy Coulson's Appointment To No10

Chris Huhne Says There Were Issues With Coulson's Appointment, Gossips About Other Papers Involved In Hacking

Nick Clegg raised concerns over Andy Coulson's appointment as Downing Street spin chief with David Cameron, Cabinet Minister Chris Huhne has said.

He told the Andrew Marr Show that there were "reuptational risks" to the appointment. "I certainly raised it with Nick and Nick raised it with the Prime Minister. And it was very clear, it was made very clear to us that this was a personal appointment of the Prime Minister. It wasn't a Government appointment and therefore we didn't have any standing to object to it.

"But it was very clear from what I had said previously that I think that big reputational risks were being run."

Mr Huhne also said there were rumours about the extent of the hacking scandal and the involvement of other News International Papers.

"I believe we should have a personal assurance from Rupert Murdoch for example that these practices, these illeagal practices, were confined to News of the World", he said. "There are rumours at the moment that there are civil actions against the Sun. There have been rumours even that the Sunday Times may have been involved in this. And I think we should have a clear assurance from Rupert Murdoch that he believes that none of his other titles have been involved in these activities."

Pressed further if the Prime Minister was right to give Coulson a second chance, he said that over the years Labour and the Conservative's relationship had been "extremely cosy" with the Murdoch press.

"The Prime Minister has said that he wanted to give Andy Coulson a second chance. And that's a very commendable thing to do in life. The reality is there were very serious risks being run there. We knew with Andy Coulson, anybody in charge of a newspaper needs to know what's going on and at the very least either Andy Coulson was complicit in criminal acts or alternatively he was a very incompetent editor, by the standards of Fleet Street."

He continued: "Hiring Coulson in the first place was seen as a way of getting into a relationship with the Murdoch press and after all the Murdoch press did back the Conservatives very vigorously during the general election campaign...I don't think it's healthy when politicians take that sort of attitude towards him. We had it from Tony Blair, who flew across the world to pay court to Rupert Murdoch and we had it again from David Cameron. I think that we need to try and move to a healthier relationship between the media and the political class."

Mr Huhne said he would look at the details of Labour's motion on Wednesday calling for the BSkyB merger to be blocked before deciding which way to vote, but said Ofcom could choose to investigate if Mr Murdoch was a fit and proper proprietor for Sky News at any point.


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