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Coulson wins bid to appeal on costs

Former News of the World editor Andy Coulson has won permission to appeal against a High Court decision that News Group Newspapers (NGN) does not have to pay his potential legal costs over the phone-hacking affair.

The Master of the Rolls Lord Neuberger and Lord Justice Laws in the Court of Appeal said that 43-year-old Mr Coulson had an "arguable case" which should go before three judges at a full one-day hearing, for which no date was set.

Mr Coulson, who resigned in February 2007, has sued NGN over the construction of a clause within a severance agreement. He was in court for the decision but made no comment.

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.

Mr Coulson, who was arrested in July 2011 over the allegations and released on bail, has always denied any wrongdoing.

He resigned from his position as Prime Minister David Cameron's director of communications the previous January, saying that coverage of the scandal was making it too difficult for him to do his job.

At the High Court hearing, in December 2011, NGN's counsel said the clause covered the "occupational hazards of being an editor" and not alleged criminal activity.

Dismissing the claim, Mr Justice Supperstone said the agreement did not cover the criminal allegations made against Mr Coulson personally and if, contrary to his view, the criminal allegations were covered, no proceedings had commenced.