Coulson ‘didn’t undergo full clearance’

By staff

Andy Coulson did not go through the full security checks undertaken by his predecessors, it has been revealed.

The development is likely to heap further embarrassment on the prime minister, who refused several times to name the company who conducted checks on his former director of communications yesterday.

It will also fuel suspicions that he was spared a full check because it could have revealed illegality during his time at News of the World.

Mr Coulson was only granted mid-level clearance during his time in Downing Street, meaning he could not access secret documents.

The level of vetting also meant he would have avoided an interview with government investigators, who could have delved into his personal finances, referees and past actions.

Tony Blair's communication chiefs – Alastair Campbell and Dave Hill – both underwent more rigorous checks, as did Michael Ellam, who played the same role for Gordon Brown.

The Cabinet Office has pointed out that Mr Coulson did not attend Cabinet, security or Cobra meetings.