Conservatives appoint ex-tabloid editor

LONDON Thu May 31, 2007 3:52pm BST

Delegates cast shadows as they listen on the second day of the annual Conservative Party conference in Bournemouth, October 2, 2006. Former News of the World editor Andy Coulson, who quit in the wake of a royal phone-tapping scandal, has been appointed the Conservatives' director of communications, the party announced on Thursday. REUTERS/Alessia Pierdomenico

Delegates cast shadows as they listen on the second day of the annual Conservative Party conference in Bournemouth, October 2, 2006. Former News of the World editor Andy Coulson, who quit in the wake of a royal phone-tapping scandal, has been appointed the Conservatives' director of communications, the party announced on Thursday.

Credit: Reuters/Alessia Pierdomenico

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LONDON (Reuters) - Former News of the World editor Andy Coulson, who quit in the wake of a royal phone-tapping scandal, has been appointed the Conservatives' director of communications, the party announced on Thursday.

He stepped down from Rupert Murdoch's tabloid, Britain's biggest selling newspaper, after its royal affairs editor admitted having plotted to intercept phone messages left for royal aides.

The 39-year-old, who previously edited The Sun newspaper's Bizarre gossip column, will take up his new job as director of communications and planning on July 9. He said he was "delighted" to be joining David Cameron's team.

The party leader said: "Andy is a hugely experienced journalist. He will make a formidable contribution as a senior member of my team in building the most effective strategy and operation to win the next general election."

Coulson was regarded as a high-flier in Murdoch's newspaper empire before his resignation in January.

The former Royal Editor, Clive Goodman, was jailed for four months for listening to mobile voice mail messages left for the press secretary of Prince Charles and two officials who worked for Princes William and Harry.

Coulson was cleared of any wrongdoing by the Press Complaints Commission, which said neither he, nor anyone else at the paper, was aware of Goodman's illegal activities.

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