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News Intl. kept Coulson on payroll

Money was part of prolonged severance package

News Intl. continued to pay the ex-News of the World editor Andy Coulson, who in July was arrested in connection with the phone hacking and police bribery scandal, after he began working as a spin doctor for David Cameron, the pol who became prime minster.

The BBC reports that the money was part of a prolonged severance package, worth “several hundred thousand pounds,” paid after Coulson was appointed the Conservative Party’s director of communications in July 2007.

Coulson resigned from the now defunct News of the World in January 2007 after his royal correspondent Clive Goodman admitted intercepting voicemail messages.

The revelation is hugely embarrassing for Cameron and News Intl., the publishing arm of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. According to the BBC, Coulson received his contractual payoff in installments until the end of 2007 and was still receiving perks, such as the use of a company car and private medical insurance, three years after quitting the paper.

BBC said the Conservative Party was unaware Coulson was receiving money and benefits from News Intl. while he was employed as its director of communications. He was reportedly paid £275,000 ($453,000) a year by the Conservatives.

BBC News business editor Robert Peston said: “Some will question whether Mr. Coulson could give impartial advice on media issues to Mr. Cameron when in opposition, given that he retained financial ties to News Intl.”

Coulson resigned as the government’s director of communications in January.

The Guardian reported Elisabeth Murdoch has pulled out of this week’s Edinburgh Television Festival, which the paper sponsors, after it was felt she would be unable to talk about her Shine Television shingle without being questioned about the phone hacking scandal.

She was reportedly due to speak at the annual convention on the theme of creating a global TV production business. Three-day confab kicks off Friday.

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