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March 29, 2017

Telegraph hires convicted former News of the World editor Andy Coulson’s PR firm

By Freddy Mayhew

Telegraph Media Group has hired the PR firm set up by convicted phone-hacker and former News of the World editor Andy Coulson.

The news comes less than 24 hours after the group, which publishes the Daily and Sunday Telegraph, announced it would be outsourcing subbing roles to PA with the loss of more than 20 staff jobs.

A spokesperson for Telegraph Media Group (TMG), publishers of the Daily and Sunday Telegraph, told Press Gazette: “We can confirm that Coulson Chappell and Pitch Marketing Group have been contracted by TMG to provide strategic communications advice and PR support.”

TMG chief executive Murdoch MacLennan told the Guardian: “We have a good working relationship with Andy, who has written for us a couple of times. We feel his company will add value to the business.”

Coulson was found guilty after trial at the Old Bailey of conspiring to intercept voicemails at the News of the World, which later closed as a result of the phone-hacking scandal.

MacLennan gave evidence at Coulson’s trial, describing him as a man of “integrity and honour”.

Coulson served less than five months of an 18-month jail term imposed in July, 2014, following his conviction.

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In January last year Coulson teamed up with Henry Chappell to launch PR firm Coulson Chappell.

According to its website, the firm offers “discreet corporate strategy and communications advice from a unique perspective”.

Prior to his arrest, Coulson had been working as director of communications for then Prime Minister David Cameron in Downing Street. Cameron later apologised for hiring Coulson, saying it had been the “wrong decision”.

NUJ boss Séamus Dooley said: “While ex-convicts are entitled to rehabilitation nothing in the behaviour of Andy Coulson suggests that this is an appropriate appointment….

“It is certainly true that Coulson’s contribution in terms of phone hacking and unethical behaviour sets him apart but our members at the Daily Telegraph are stunned at the decision to hire him as a consultant, apparently to improve the image of the paper, at a time when journalists charged with maintaining standards in editorial production face redundancy.

“Staff at the Daily Telegraph are proud of their record and need no lessons from Coulson. The image of the Daily Telegraph can best be maintained and enhanced by investment in journalism rather than spin.”

Coulson was cleared of perjury in 2015 after the case against him collapsed.

Press Gazette has contacted Coulson Chappell for comment.

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