News Corp: the scandal that keeps on giving. In the latest development, Andy Coulson, who was News of the World editor before he was hired away by Britain's conservative party, was found to have received "several hundred thousand pounds" in cash payments from News International—even after he had resigned. The Guardian reports:
The title's owner News International allegedly agreed to honour the remainder of Coulson's two-year contract, and the money was paid in instalments. Coulson also continued to receive other benefits, including private health insurance and a company car, for several years.
He took up his post as director of communications at the Conservative party in July 2007.
The alleged payments ended before Cameron became prime minister but the fact one of Cameron's closest advisers was receiving money from News International after he started work for the Tories will cast doubt over Coulson's impartiality. The spotlight will again fall on Cameron's close ties with the Murdoch media empire because of the revelations.
Conservatives are denying knowledge of the payments, but this certainly spells trouble for Coulson. As Labour MP Tom Watson pointed out, the money could fall under the category of a donation to the Tory party. "This is a remarkable revelation" Watson said. "Not only was Coulson being paid when he gave evidence to the committee, he failed to declare it. I will be writing to the electoral commission to invite them to look into this." Read the full update at the Guardian.