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Coulson-gate blows up: both Met and NotW face new suits


9:00 am - September 3rd 2010

by Sunny Hundal    


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Both the Financial Times and the Independent go big on the fresh Andy Coulson / News of the World allegations today.

BBC coverage so far is still limited to a few lines on of their blogs. Director Mark Thompson however is defending himself from visiting Downing Street to discuss coverage of spending cuts. Apparently this is entirely impartial.

Meanwhile, well done to Tom Watson, Chris Bryant, Ed Miliband, John Prescott and others pushing on this story.

The Independent
Phone-hacking row returns to haunt Cameron’s chief spin doctor
The Independent understands that George Galloway, the former MP, has instructed his lawyers not to consider any out-of-court settlement in a claim for breach of privacy unless Rupert Murdoch’s News Group Newspapers, owners of the News of the World, are prepared to make full disclosure of the paper’s involvement in phone-hacking.

The mystery of how a hands-on editor could know so little
Assuming that bad news always comes in threes, Coulson must be asking himself after the Hague fiasco and the New York Times revelations, what next? The former tabloid editor is not universally loved in the middle ranks of government. Ministers resent his constant access to the Prime Minister, and complain that he is too exclusively interested in the Conservative tabloids, particularly the Daily Mail and The Sun. This is particularly exasperating for Liberal Democrat ministers, who need to communicate with their voters, who mostly do not read those two newspapers.

The Financial Times
Coulson affair escalates media war
Instead of suing News of the World, however, as at least eight of his colleagues intend to do, he has teamed up with Brian Paddick, the former Metropolitan Police chief, and Brendan Montague, a freelance journalist, to bring a suit against the police. John Prescott, the former Labour deputy leader, may join their suit.

Tory spin chief faces fresh hacking claims
Sean Hoare, a former rep orter at the NoW, told the US paper that he had played tape recordings of hacked messages for Mr Coulson while they both worked for The Sun. At the NoW, Mr Hoare said, Mr Coulson “actively encouraged me to do it”, according to the paper. It quoted another unnamed former NoW reporter as saying: “Everyone knew. The office cat knew.”

New row over newspaper phone-hackers
Mr Bryant said: “It is extraordinary that all of the MPs whose names were uncovered in the initial investigation as potential victims of phone-hacking have not been contacted by the police.”

The Guardian
MP demands judicial inquiry into News of the World phone-hacking claims
The Labour MP Tom Watson has called for a full judicial inquiry into allegations of widespread illegal phone-hacking at the News of the World. Watson, a former minister, has written to No 10 asking David Cameron to set up a wide-ranging inquiry into the relationship between the Metropolitan Police and News International, which publishes the News of the World.

Met asked to reveal what it knew about NoW hacking of officers’ phones
Paddick is seeking a judicial review of the force’s alleged failure to tell him his name had been found in the list of public figures. Another name on the list was the former commissioner Sir Ian Blair. Also on the list was Michael Fuller, then a senior officer at the Met who later became the first ethnic minority chief constable, when he led the Kent force.

The New York Times now also has a handy time-line of events

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


At what stage would Coulson have to admit that he has become the story – and so quit?

Also – is it coincidence that Coulson told Hague to make his massive statement in defence of his marriage on the day that revelations about Coulson emerged? Was he using Hague to try to deflect attention from himself?

Those skeletons are rattling the closet door. Luvly!

margin4error,

Interesting point about timing – if he is that cynical (I know he’s a spin doctor and ex-tabloid editor, but putting himself ahead of the First Secretary of State is still a different level) then he needs to go.

I’m still not convinced there is much milage in this against Coulson – he exercised deniablity, whilst taking responsibility (actually the honourable thing to do), and this is nothing to do with his present role. The focus on the links with the police may entangle him, but I suspect he is clever enough to get out of this. Especially because he (or at least the Conservative press operation) has not shown much sympathy for the ACPO point of view, which does not suggest personal close links. I’m also not sure this is a big story yet – it has not hit the tabloids, which like a good scandal, nor has it appeared in the more right-wing broadsheets from the summary above. At the moment it appears political still – a combination of liberal-left papers, anti-Murdoch feeling and some attempts to drive it by the left-wing (and I presume anarchist) blogosphere. It may grow, but don’t put hopes on it.

“I’m also not sure this is a big story yet – it has not hit the tabloids, which like a good scandal”

Now why do you think this may be the case?

Planeshift,

Unless they are all in league with the police and News International then I can’t see a reason they wouldn’t run with this story. I mean, the Mirror is hardly going to be adverse to the message, and the Express/Star (not to be confused with various Express and Stars) would benefit from damage to the News International tabloids.

I think that the reason is the obvious that they don’t (yet) see a story that will interest their readers and sell papers. Which is not to say they are ignoring the issue, just making judgements about what shifts units and attracts attention.

Well have a think watchman – what do you think the consequences of having a full inquiry (police or judicial) into possible illegal methods used by news international would be?

Do you think the investigations would be limited to just the news of the world? or do you think the investigation would inevitably draw in other newspapers and form part of a wider scrutiny of the practices involved in news gathering – leading to possible legislation?

Now do you think the Express, Mirror, Star etc really want that?

Yawn, no one really cares. Coulson got away with it, the left should try doing something new and taking the initiative sometimes rather than pursue old vendettas.

@7

A touch defeatist, Blanco? And this is hardly ancient history…

blanco

He hasn’t got away with it yet, and that’s why I asked.

If it rumbles on and new revelations have come to light – proving his guilt doesn’t matter. His association with an embarrasing scandal does.

Lets not forget, this isn’t about a man maybe being guilty of something horrendously illegal. It is, as Alistair Campbell found, about him being the story rather than the spin doctor.

Watchman

To be fair, The Sun and NoTW will steer well clear for obvious reasons. The rest of the tabloid press won’t want too great a scrutiny in reporting methods either – though actually it is unlikely their editors turned a blind eye to wire-tapping.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-11175076

There’s finally a story on the BBC website, which comes from Prescott’s interview on Today this morning. Kudos to them for running the interview at their prime 8:10 slot and pushing it up the BBC new agenda a little.

Seven possible reasons which may explain why this is not a mainstream news story:
http://greenerblog.blogspot.com/2010/09/why-is-coulson-affair-not-story-for-uk.html

Planeshift,

So your hypothesis here is that all the tabloids use illegal (as opposed to dodgy – legal but dubious) methods of obtaining information? That is the only reason I can see that they would not want this in the open – bloodletting involving public figures and big papers would shift units, and that is the bottom line. Anyway, I doubt the Telegraph has the same issues, and it hasn’t joined in yet.

Yes, there is a sector-wide interest in not rocking the boat. But once it is clear they are in a storm, they might as well try to make the most of it. I think the problem here is that the storm has not happened yet (although the story is on the BBC frontpage – or at least Lord Prescott’s attempts to reopen the case, so that might be a strengthening breeze).

“Planeshift,

So your hypothesis here is that all the tabloids use illegal (as opposed to dodgy – legal but dubious) methods of obtaining information?”

Yes.

See the chapters on Dark Arts in Nick davies’ flat earth news for the evidence.

Moronic brownshirt troll “Coulson got away with it, the left should try doing something new and taking the initiative sometimes rather than pursue old vendettas”

Yes, this would be one of the army of brownshirt trolls who used to come on here and lecture the left about decency and integrity in politics. Once again the brownshirts show themselves to be tribal and hypocritical in their politics

This shows that Call me Dave is a nasty piece of work below the spin. And it shows his judgement is poor. Dear oh dear a Prime Minster who appoints a piece of dog shit and a foreign secretary who rooms with his young attractive advisor.

No wonder call me dave his hiding behind his baby this morning. SPIN SPIN SPIN.

Sally,

If you haven’t got anything constructive to say, why not engage in random abuse and speculation…

Moronic brownshirt troll “Coulson got away with it, the left should try doing something new and taking the initiative sometimes rather than pursue old vendettas”

Yes, this would be one of the army of brownshirt trolls who used to come on here and lecture the left about decency and integrity in politics. Once again the brownshirts show themselves to be tribal and hypocritical in their politics

Don’t know if Blanco has lectured about decency and integrity or not, but ‘got away with it’ is hardly suggestive that he thinks Coulson has no responsibility or involvement. Which may be why he resigned, remember. But Blanco’s key point is important – if the left keep fighting the same old battles, how will you set the agenda and attract support.

This shows that Call me Dave is a nasty piece of work below the spin. And it shows his judgement is poor. Dear oh dear a Prime Minster who appoints a piece of dog shit and a foreign secretary who rooms with his young attractive advisor.

Hmm. So you are repreating Guido’s slurs that the foreign secretary is homosexual now (and I assume you mean this as a slur, as I see nothing wrong with sharing a room platonically; as presumably does this site, since Sunny has commendably not made any moves on this story). Hardly thoughtful or sensible – yet you were just lecturing Blanco for apparently supporting lack of decency and integrity, which seems hypocritical almost. And show me a spin doctor on either side of the political divide who is not describeable in equally excrementary terms.

No wonder call me dave his hiding behind his baby this morning. SPIN SPIN SPIN.

Yes, because he is not human enough to want to enjoy being a parent again. Come to think of it, isn’t he not even officially at work, so he is hardly hiding. Or do you think the other new parent in parliament should also stop hiding behind her baby and get back to work?

@ Watchman

You should feel a little self-conscious at being so sanctimonious. I know you’re a righty halfwit but even you should be able to see there’s a story in this phone tapping thing. Of course, being a self-centred tory you want it to not-be, but facts is facts. Now we see how it plays out.

@ Watchman

The tabloids didn’t bother reporting on this story:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2009/nov/23/andy-coulson-now-bullying-payout

The tabloids all look out for each other, bringing the phone hacking scandal to the attention of the public just wouldn’t be in their collective interest.

I don’t suppose Cameron hired Coulson for his fastidiousness about professional ethics any more than Blair hired Alastair Campbell for his tact, tendency to understatement or interpersonal skills.

For some reason, shepherding the Lobby is seen as a job for a thug. Thatcher chose a rough diamond in Bernard Ingham as had Harold Wilson in Joe Haines. Callaghan picked an affable smoothie in Tom McCaffrey, Major two more in Gus O’Donnell and Christopher Meyer. McCaffrey, O’Donnell and Meyer made out alright in the end, but look what happened to their principals.

I agree, though: time for Coulson to bow out. Probably a mistake to bring him into Downing Street, but it might have seemed ungrateful not to.

a foreign secretary who rooms with his young attractive advisor

Ah Sally, how tolerant of you. So much for lecturing others about “decency”. You’re happy to criticise Cameron on the basis that one of his appointed ministers has shared a room with an advisor, implying the minister and advisor are having a gay relationship?

Who’s the brownshirt now?

Coulson’s been called as a witness at Tommy Sheridan’s perjury trial – in case anyone missed this.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Coulson-gate blows up: both Met and NotW face new suits http://bit.ly/cV52UO

  2. JPieslak

    Squeaky bum time for Coulson. What's that about becoming the story… http://bit.ly/arkgoj

  3. Nicholas Ripley

    RT @libcon: Coulson-gate blows up: both Met and NotW face new suits http://bit.ly/cV52UO

  4. Derek Bryant

    RT @libcon Coulson-gate blows up: both Met and NotW face new suits http://bit.ly/cV52UO

  5. Political World

    RT @DerekJohnBryant: RT @libcon Coulson-gate blows up: both Met and NotW face new suits http://bit.ly/cV52UO

  6. Hash

    Ha, Coulson becomes the story. RT @libcon: Coulson-gate blows up: both Met and NotW face new suits http://bit.ly/cV52UO #hackgate

  7. Tam Chandler

    Coulson-gate blows up: both Met and NotW face new suits http://bit.ly/cV52UO (via @libcon ) #hackgate #metgate

  8. Oxford Kevin

    You would expect sleaze in an old gov., not a new one. http://bit.ly/cV52UO

  9. Catherine Neilan

    RT @libcon: Coulson-gate blows up: both Met and NotW face new suits http://bit.ly/cV52UO

  10. luther

    RT @libcon: Coulson-gate blows up: both Met and NotW face new suits http://bit.ly/cV52UO

  11. Pete Birkinshaw

    Good summary of #metgate/#hackgate scandal at Liberal Conspiracy: http://bit.ly/aDZf0P Even the BBC have now noticed it [cough]

  12. manishta sunnia

    RT @oxkev: You would expect sleaze in an old gov., not a new one. http://bit.ly/cV52UO

  13. Natacha Kennedy

    More on #metgate http://bit.ly/atw9Un from @Sunny Hundal

  14. Niall Millar

    RT: @libcon: Coulson-gate blows up: both Met and NotW face new suits http://bit.ly/cV52UO





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