Court reserves judgment in Andy Coulson legal costs case

The Court of Appeal reserved its judgment in a case in which former News of the World editor Andy Coulson was appealing against a High Court ruling that News Group Newspapers (NGN) does not have to pay his legal costs arising from the phone-hacking affair.

Coulson, 44, who resigned in February 2007, sued NGN over the construction of a clause within a severance agreement.

He wants a declaration that NGN, which stopped reimbursement in August last year, "must pay the professional costs and expenses properly incurred" by him "in defending allegations of criminal conduct" during his tenure.

At last December's High Court hearing, NGN's counsel told Mr Justice Supperstone that the clause covered the "occupational hazards of being an editor" and not alleged criminal activity.

It maintains that, if there is an obligation, it is triggered at the stage when proceedings are complete.

Yesterday, three judges in the Court of Appeal agreed to an application by Coulson's lawyers to admit fresh evidence, relating to the criminal investigation, in the appeal.

This included included evidence from material in the press that Rebekah Brooks and some current employees of The Sun appeared to have been indemnified in respect of some criminal proceedings as they went along, rather than waiting until the end.

Coulson's counsel, Thomas Linden QC, said NGN would neither confirm nor deny whether Brooks and others had been indemnified.

Lord Justice Laws, sitting with Lord Justice Sullivan and Lord Justice McCombe, said: "We would propose to infer that other persons, notably Rebekah Brooks, are being funded as alleged in the new evidence, absent any contradiction to that proposition."

Coulson, who has always denied any wrongdoing, resigned from his position as Prime Minister David Cameron's director of communications in January last year, saying that coverage of the phone-hacking scandal was making it too difficult for him to do his job.

He was in court today to hear the judges reserve their decision to a later unspecified date.

Mr Linden said: "In terms of Mr Coulson's position, he would like to know the answers as soon as possible as he is busy defending proceedings."

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