Coulson-gate explodes as more revelations tumble out

9:30 am - September 5th 2010

by Sunny Hundal    

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Both the Observer and Independent on Sunday today lead with Coulson-gate, though less attention is being paid to the part Scotland Yard played in this

Mandelson targeted in phone-hacking scandal
The Independent on Sunday has learnt that Lord Mandelson’s mobile-phone details and an invoice for research on him were among files seized by police investigating illegal activity by News of the World reporters during the time when Mr Coulson was editor. The former business secretary told a senior colleague that his phone had been “hacked”, and has been in contact with the police.

Is Coulson the most dangerous man in Britain? (As the NoW might say)
In fact, nobody at News International fought to keep Coulson, even if there was a feeling that the quicker he went, the sooner he could be rehabilitated and come back into the fold. On the contrary, he had embarrassed them, and he had to pay the price. He was no happier than were Goodman and Mulcaire – who sued for wrongful dismissal and later signed confidentiality agreements – about carrying the can for something that many red-top journalists regard as an accepted trick of the trade.

Leading article: Coulson taints Cameron
The Andy Coulson furore may look like one of those beltway politics stories, but it is not. The personal integrity of the Prime Minister’s staff is important; and the story has implications for civil liberties, including the right to privacy, which is not threatened only by government.

John Prescott furious over unrevealed link to phone-hacking scandal
Lord Prescott spoke of his anger that the information, spelled out in a letter from the Yard’s legal services directorate, emerged only after he was given a series of personal reassurances by detectives at the highest level that there was “no evidence” his phone may have been hacked.

David Cameron and Andy Coulson: the PM, the PR guru and a scandalous lapse of judgment
Today the NYT finally delivers its judgment on what really happened at the News of the World under Coulson. In a 6,072-word piece, the paper claims Coulson “actively encouraged” phone hacking, an allegation he has consistently denied. The article also raised questions about how vigorously the Metropolitan police had pursued the case. Several unnamed sources told the NYT that the practice of phone hacking at the NoW had been endemic.

Andy Coulson under pressure as furore over phone hacking claims grows
In a sign of its concern, the government last night moved into overdrive to trash Hoare. A minister seized on Hoare’s admission to the New York Times that he was sacked by the News of the World as he struggled with a drink and drug problem.

Will Hutton: What the Coulson affair tells us about Murdoch’s lust for power
While Labour in opposition is highly exercised over the affair, in government it was beyond feeble. The former home secretary Alan Johnson may now want the police investigation reopened; in office, he no more wanted to offend NI in the run-up to an election than the Met. Tessa Jowell says her phone was mysteriously tampered with 28 times. Why no action when in power?

BBC Online
Ed Balls demands statement on phone hacking claims
Mr Balls rejected Tory claims that Labour was exploiting the issue for political gain, insisting there would be “questions over David Cameron’s judgement if he doesn’t see the seriousness of this now”. Fellow Labour leadership candidate Ed Miliband also called on the government to take action.

Mail on Sunday
David Cameron to stand by spin chief Andy Coulson amid claims he knew newspaper was tapping people’s phones
David Cameron has told friends he will stand by his chief spin doctor, Andy Coulson, over claims that he knew journalists on a national newspaper were phone-tapping while he was its editor.
In a defiant response to growing Labour calls for him to resign as the Tories’ director of communications, Downing Street insiders said Mr Coulson, who has ‘totally and utterly’ denied the allegations, is ‘going nowhere’.

Sean Hoare tells BBC’s Radio 4 PM last week
“There is an expression called the culture of dark arts. You were given a remit: just get the story. Phone tapping hadn’t just existed on the News of the World. It was endemic within the whole industry. I have gone on the record in the New York Times and said I have stood by Andy and been requested to tap phones, OK, or hack into them. He was well aware the practice existed. To deny it is simply a lie.”

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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

so this is the biggest news me the day? Not the fact that the Guardian has endorsed David Miliband?

@1 Well, it concerns serious criminal allegations against someone at the heart of the government, so yeah I’d say that’s a bigger story than anything else right now. Sorry for your one track mind.

It really is extraordinary how much Andy Coulson didn’t know about the news gathering methods of the paper he edited.

Given the sort of investigative exposure stories the News of the World runs, regular readers as well as external observers would be reasonable in assuming the editor would make a special point of not only ensuring the reported stories were soundly sourced but that he would also take some interest in what the investigators hired by the paper got up to for the retainers they were paid in case that came back to damage the reputation of the paper.

In the context, what is even more extraordinary is that Andy Coulson now works in Downing St as the Director of Government Communications.

Are you going to comment on the Observer’s endorsement of David Miliband, Sunny?

Surely the elder Mili has it wrapped up now. Even the unions are conceding it’s going to be D-Mil and are drawing up their terms of agreement with him.

Good round up Sunny – great to have the stuff so far in one piece.

He’ll be gone within a week. If I had any money I’d put a bet on it.

The best contra-indicator that the story should be pursued is Iain Dale rubbishing the story.

How many people here remember Albert Speer, Hitler’s architecht.

While he was still alive there was something of a bizare support for him as a murderous Nazi – on the grounds he claimed not to have known about the genocide and simply designed buildings.

Now anyone with any common sense concluded that he was clearly lying for two reasons.

1 – to have been so integral to the hierarchy of the German government and Nazi movement, it seemed utterly implausible that he alone didn’t know about it.
2 – to have not known would have required him when faced with such obvious and apparent evidence to choose not to investigate or ask about it and to put it to the back of his mind and delberately avoid knowing because he wanted deniability.

Of course then he died and it all came out that of course he knew and it was ridiculous anyone ever claimed otherwise.

Well this whole editor not knowing about phone tapping by his paper follows a similar logic – and everyone knows it.

Those arguing he was innocent and knew nothing surely don’t actually believe that as it is clearly an almost utterly implausible assertion. As such presumably they are arguing it through some affiliation or another, as happened with Speer.

Also – given that all this phone tapping undoubtedly ended up on his desk – since he was editor and had to decide what to print and what not to – even if we buy into the implausible “he didn’t know how the transcripts were derived” story – surely he thus has a lot of illegally phone-tapped information that he and his party can use against their opponents.

Is that not a little “watergate”?

Not only are Tory supporting bloggers like Iain Dale trying to rubbish the story, others like his pal Phil Hendren are in “non story” mode. Hendren is trying to pretend that, as many papers aren’t leading on this, it isn’t news, which suggests that either he hasn’t heard of what Nick Davies calls “Dog Doesn’t Eat Dog”, or is being misleading. Dizzy not thinking once more.

The problem for Tory supporters is that, because this time it didn’t affect their side, they don’t get the thought that next time it might be them. Dale would be screaming loudly enough if it was his phone getting hacked.

Problem for Cameron is that he doesn’t know what might be revealed as the days pass. Does he bin Coulson now, then find the story dries up? Or does he sit tight and find the floodgates opening?

Were I a betting man, my dosh would be on the latter. Might be an interesting party conference for Young Dave.


I don’t think Cameron is brave enough to sack Coulson yet. I also increasingly think Coulson is putting his own interests ahead of the party’s in a big way.

Take the Hague “scandal”. The Spad quit and all that was left to report was some vague notion about Hague’s “judgement” – so basically sit tight and in a few days everyone will have moved on (unless another “revelation” emerges)

Easy spin doctoring that one. Sacrifice the spad – and keep schtum.

Yet he came out and made a bizarre statement about his family – was utterly absolute in his terminology – and so made yet more story of it. Now there is no way on earth that that statement wasn’t cleared by coulson.

As such we have to wonder, did Coulson deliberaly mis-advise Hague so as to distract everyone from his own scandal?

In the end Campbell went because he had become the story. And he unambiguously had and he knew it. Coulson won’t take the same step. He’ll advise the party that they can go with deniability rather than find a new spin doctor.

I do wonder though, how the Lib Dems feel about having to deal with this chap? After all, he’s not their man and yet has the potential to seriously damage their government.


Well, it’s going to be an interesting party conference, as I thought 😉

What you have to remember about Speer, BTW, was that he alone actually apologised. He put much effort into distancing himself from the rest of the Nazi leaedership in the period between his arrest and trial.

Also, Sauckel, whose testimony could have damaged Speer’s chances of avoiding the death penalty, did not have a convincing trial and was hanged as a result. That made it easier for Speer to “maintain his distance”.

George Galloway Speaks With Chris Huhne MP: Phone Tapping/Andy Coulson/New Corp

I wonder how he fells now.


Would be interesting to hear Huhne’s take on the story now he’s a tory.

Sorry, I mean Lib Dem who remain distinct to and independent of the Tories and have got a great deal in the coalition agreement.

Once again the tory trolls are defending the un defendable.

Suddenly they are spinning like tops after 10 years of complaining about spin. Cameron his hiding behind his baby so as to play the nice guy image, yet he employs a piece of dog shit from the Murdoch empire.

The position of the police in this whole seedy affair is what needs investigating. Are the Met in the pockets of Murdoch? If they are then we have not a police force of consent but police by dictator.

The trolls refusal to see how sleazy this whole affair shows that we will never listen to their faux morality again. As long as you are a tory you can be above the law. That is the position of the knuckle dragging scum who follow the right wing.

In the news on Sunday night:

“The Metropolitan Police has said it may reopen the investigation into claims of phone hacking by the News of the World if it uncovers new evidence.

“Assistant Commissioner John Yates said officers would consider any new information – and examine if further action should be taken.”


The words “white” and “wash” come to mind. What’s needed isn’t another investigation by the Met but a full open government enquiry into the Met’s handling of this case and their culpability in not pursuing Coulson when they had the chance. The links between the Met and News International need to be fully explored – put Rupert Murdoch in the witness stand if needs be – if we are to have any faith in the judical process.

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    So No.10 insiders have said Mr Coulson, is ‘going nowhere’? He'll be gone by tomorrow then! 😉 (@libcon:

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