Emails handed over by the News of the World to police investigating phone-hacking former editor Andy Coulson made payments to police for information between 2003-2007, according to reports.
Coulson resigned from the newspaper after royal editor Clive Goodman was jailed for phone-hacking alongside private investigator Glenn Mulcaire in 2007 – but claimed he had no direct knowledge of hacking.
He later became communications chief for Prime Minister David Cameron, a role he was forced to resign from earlier this as the scandal surrounding his time in charge of the tabloid began to escalate.
According to reports by the BBC, Vanity Fair and The Times, News International handed the emails to officers from Operation Weeting, the unit set up by Scotland Yard to investigate phone-hacking claims earlier this year.
Vanity Fair claimed this was part of a ‘broader inquiry into phone hacking and the close relationship between the News of the World and the police”.
A News International statement given to the magazine said: “As a result of enquiries it is correct to state that new information has recently been provided to the police.
“As News International and News Group Newspapers has reiterated many times, full and continuing cooperation has been provided to the police since the current investigation started in January 2011.
“Well understood arrangements are in place to ensure that any material of importance to which they are entitled is provided to them. We cannot comment any further due to the ongoing investigations.”
Labour MP Tom Watson told BBC News this morning that the Coulson story was an attempt to divert attention away from News International chief executive Rebekah Wade.
“This is desperation from News International,” he said. “They are trying to protect Rebekah Brooks, who rightly faces the ire of the nation today.”