Steve Coogan: why I went after Andy Coulson

steve coogan

Comedian pursuing phone hacking case says he objected to seeing Coulson ‘at the heart of power’

LAST UPDATED AT 10:46 ON Tue 6 Sep 2011

Comedian Steve Coogan has revealed that his main motivation for pursuing legal action against the News of the World over phone hacking was the sight of the paper's former editor Andy Coulson operating "at the heart of power" after being made David Cameron’s director of communications.

In an interview with the Guardian, Coogan talks about his ongoing court case, which is intended to expose who exactly at the Murdoch-owned tabloid knew about phone hacking.

It was Coogan's legal team who forced the News of the World's private investigator Glenn Mulcaire to reveal which executives and/or reporters at the paper commissioned him to hack into the voicemails of celebrities and public figures, challenging the tabloid's 'single rogue reporter' defence.

Coogan says he was warned not to go after the NotW by his
Publicist, who said Coulson was "surrounded by a ring of steel".

But in the end it was this that persuaded Coogan to pursue the former NotW editor. "What motivated me was seeing Andy Coulson gaining a modicum of respectability standing next to David Cameron. I remember thinking 'Andy Coulson should not be at the heart of power.' That man shouldn't be there."

Coogan's legal action against the NotW has continued in the background while the revelation that ultimately forced the closure of the tabloid - the news that murder victim Millie Dowler's phone was hacked - unfolded over the summer. A court order prevents Coogan from revealing who Mulcaire says ordered the phone hacking.

His worry is that the phone hacking scandal will be overtaken by other events and the public will lose interest, but he hopes to use his celebrity appeal to keep the story going: "Because I'm a more populist person and I reach a more generalised audience that goes beyond broadsheets I can help keep it in the popular imagination and I will do everything in my power to keep it in the popular imagination." · 

For further concise, balanced comment and analysis on the week's news, try The Week magazine. Subscribe today and get 6 issues completely free.