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Ex-Cameron aide to be charged over royal data bribes

Published on Nov 20, 2012 6:48 PM
Former News of the World editor and Downing Street communications chief, Andy Coulson, arrives at the Old Bailey court in central London on Sept 26, 2012 for a hearing on charges relating to alleged phone hacking. British prosecutors said on Tuesday they would charge Prime Minister David Cameron's ex-media chief and Rupert Murdoch's British former newspaper boss with making payments to public officials in the latest charges to stem from a tabloid scandal. -- PHOTO: AFP

LONDON - Mr David Cameron's former media chief Andy Coulson will be charged with conspiring to pay officials for private information on the royal family during his time as a tabloid editor, prosecutors said on Tuesday.

The prosecutor's decision is a blow to the reputation of the British prime minister who has been forced to defend his hiring of Mr Coulson since a phone-hacking scandal exploded last year at the Rupert Murdoch-owned News of the World tabloid.

Critics say that Eton-educated Cameron - who meets Queen Elizabeth once a week - ignored warnings about Mr Coulson's reputation to appoint him to shape his media strategy to connect better with ordinary voters.

Since resigning in 2011, Mr Coulson has been charged with conspiracy to hack into phone messages and perjury, possible first steps to what would be politically charged court cases. He said in a statement he would fight the latest charges in court.

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