Andy Coulson, Tory spin doctor and trusted adjutant of David Cameron, has come under pressure to explain his relationship with convicted phone-hackers and other criminals during his tenure at the News of the World.
Mr. Coulson first worked as deputy editor of the tabloid and then became its editor in 2003.
A number of private investigators employed by NoW while Mr. Coulson worked at the paper - including Glenn Mulcaire, John Boyall and Steve Whittamore - were convicted of bribing police officers, intercepting private phone calls and voicemails, and illegally procuring confidential private information.
In January 2007 Mr. Coulson had to resign after Mulcaire and reporter Clive Goodman were jailed for intercepting voicemail messages.
A few months later, he assumed his current role as Conservative Party communications director.
The Guardian reports that, while Mr. Coulson worked as editor of NoW, the newspaper re-employed one freelance private detective who had just been released from a seven-year sentence for blackmail.
'Evidence seen by the Guardian shows that Mr. A, who cannot be named because he is facing trial for a violent crime, "blagged" information from bank accounts, bribed police officers, procured confidential data from the DVLA and phone companies, and traded sensitive material from live police inquiries.
'Mr. Coulson last night refused to say whether he was aware of Mr. A's criminal background, or of his return to the paper following his prison term.'
The Guardian continues: 'A total of 19 people have been positively identified as victims of illegal privacy invasions [by investigators paid by News of the World], while mobile phone companies say ... 100 customers' voicemail was accessed, and Scotland Yard has conceded that, in material seized from Mulcaire, it found 91 pin codes ... to access voicemail.'
MPs have criticised News International executives for "collective amnesia" and "deliberate obfuscation" in trying to cover up the phone-hacking scandal.
Earlier this year, following a written question from House of Commons culture, media and sport select committee chairman John Whittingdale MP, News International finally admitted paying off the phone-hackers to avoid claims for unfair dismissal (and more, presumably).
- Pair jailed over royal phone taps (BBC News)
- Data protection charges for sale of police data (The Register)
- Former 'News of the World' editor is appointed as Tory spin doctor (Independent)
- News International admit payouts to phone hackers were for unfair dismissal (Guardian)
- Coulson comes under fresh scrutiny over News of the World activities (Guardian)