Prime Minister's 'gross error of judgment' over former editor Andy Coulson

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CALLS were made yesterday for the Prime Minister David Cameron to keep his distance from an inquiry into phone hacking because of his employment of former News of the World editor Andy Coulson.

Labour were last night heaping the pressure on the Prime Minister over Mr Coulson, who left his post as director of communications at Downing Street in January. News International has reportedly sent e-mails to Scotland Yard which suggest that Mr Coulson was aware of payments to police officers when he was editor of the tabloid embroiled in the phone-hacking affair.

But yesterday, Downing Street insisted that Mr Cameron had "received assurances" directly from Mr Coulson when he employed him first at Tory Central Office and then in Downing Street.

However, Mr Cameron refused to respond to Labour leader Ed Miliband's claims in Prime Minister's Questions that he "had made a catastrophic error of judgment" in employing Mr Coulson.

Later in the Commons, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said that the Prime Minister should be kept away from an inquiry because of his links with Mr Coulson.

Later in an interview, Mr Miliband went on the attack, pointing out that the Prime Minister had known that Mr Coulson had resigned from the News of the World after the phone-hacking scandal first broke, leading to the imprisonment of the paper's former royal correspondent Clive Goodman and private investigator Glen Mulcaire. Mr Miliband said: "He (Mr Cameron] could not bring himself to admit - as he must - that it was a gross error of judgment to bring Andy Coulson into Downing Street machine as director of communications.

"David Cameron simply made the wrong decision to give him such a senior post inside the government machine."

Complete coverage of the Phone hacking fallout

• Tommy Sheridan jailbreak as MP says trial was 'unsound'

• Rupert Murdoch supports Rebekah Brooks

• Prime Minister's 'gross error of judgment' over former editor Coulson

• News of the World spied on top police officer

• Press Complaints Commission vows to tighten regulation after failings