UK Tories uncover new links to hacking scandal

The Associated Press

LONDON — Britain's Conservative Party said Tuesday a recently arrested phone-hacking suspect may have advised Prime Minister David Cameron's communications chief before the 2010 election.

Former News of the World executive editor Neil Wallis was arrested last week on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications as part of a broadening investigation into phone hacking at the now-defunct tabloid.

Police also recently arrested Andy Coulson, a former News of the World editor who became Cameron's communications chief before resigning in January amid allegations he was aware of phone hacking at the newspaper.

The Conservatives said Monday it has been brought to the party's attention that Wallis "may have provided Andy Coulson with some informal advice on a voluntary basis before the election."

"We are currently finding out the exact nature of any advice," the party said in a statement. It said that neither Cameron nor any senior members of the campaign team were aware of the fact until this week.

The party said that it reviewed its own records and could confirm that Wallis was never contracted to or paid by the Conservatives.

Wallis also worked as a media consultant to the Metropolitan Police, a revelation that prompted the resignations of London police chief Paul Stephenson and, a day later, assistant commissioner John Yates.

When asked about his relationship with Wallis, Stephenson said he had "no reason to connect Wallis with phone hacking" when he was hired for the part-time job in 2009. He said now that the scale of phone hacking at the paper has emerged, it's "embarrassing" that Wallis worked for the police.