FORMER NEWS of the World editor and ex-Downing Street communications boss Andy Coulson has been released from prison after serving less than a third of an 18-month jail sentence for phone-hacking.
Coulson, 46, left Hollesley Bay, an open prison in Suffolk, yesterday morning and is understood he will be monitored closely while wearing an electronic tag.
He has served less than five months of an 18-month term imposed in July after he was found guilty of conspiring to intercept voicemails at the now-defunct Sunday tabloid following an eight-month trial at the Old Bailey in London.
It is believed that Coulson will have to wear the electronic tag until he has served half of his full sentence as a condition of his early release.
The Ministry of Justice declined to comment on an individual prisoner, but confirmed inmates can be released under home detention arrangements before they have served half of their term.
A spokesman said: “Public protection is our first priority. Only prisoners who pass a strict risk assessment can be released on home detention curfew.
“Offenders on HDC are subject to strict licence conditions and can be recalled to prison if they breach them.”
Prisoners can be considered for home detention curfew if they are serving a sentence of more than three months and less than four years and have served a quarter of their sentence.
Coulson was previously held at HMP Belmarsh in south-east London, but it was reported in September that he was moved to Hollesley Bay to serve the rest of his jail term.