Leveson Inquiry: Independent on Sunday Editor John Mullin Defends Coulson 'Shares' Story

The editor of the Independent on Sunday, John Mullin, has been forced to explain his decision to publish a story about Andy Coulson that contained details from his witness statement to the Leveson Inquiry.

John Mullin apologised for the inconvenience to the inquiry into press standards on Thursday morning but stood by his decision to publish the story, revealing that Mr Coulson held News Corp shares while he was Mr Cameron's head of communications at a time when the Government was deciding whether to approve the company's takeover of BSkyB.

Lord Justice Leveson has ordered that no witness statements or document should be made public until they have been given in evidence at the inquiry.

The story was published on Sunday and included details that appear in Mr Coulson's statement, before his appearance at the inquiry into press standards today, breaching the order.

He said: "Nothing that appeared in our story did not come from the three sources that I have underlined."

In a written statement, he added: "As editor, I took the view that the information that Mr Coulson had a potential conflict of interest between his shareholding and his position as an advisor to the prime minister was of public interest."

Mr Mullin said in hindsight that it would have been easier if he had not read the statement he was shown.

"I think it's human nature that if you are presented with something and you're a journalist that you would read it. I think in retrospect it would have been much better all round had I not read that statement."

"From my point of view, I am an editor of a newspaper. We may not be the world's greatest newspaper, in fact we may not be the greatest newspaper in our own building, but we are good, honest journalists and we try and do our job as best as we can do it.

"This is an issue of massive public importance. The fact the inquiry is going on should not stop us from doing good, honest journalism as we go ahead.

"It was our misfortune that through good, honest, journalism, we got this statement after we had already substantiated the story."

He said he had not been handed the statement by any of the core participants in the inquiry, but would not reveal who had given it to him.

He said in hindsight he would have made some effort to contact the inquiry, adding: "But I would not want that to be taken as an acceptance that the decision I made on Saturday night was entirely incorrect."

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