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Becoming the story

Nick Robinson | 09:24 UK time, Thursday, 9 July 2009

The police showed a list of names of targets for phone hacking to one of those whose voicemails were illegally hacked into by the News of the World. This happened in the lead-up to the jailing of the paper's royal editor and the private investigator he used. The individual, who I've spoken to, recognised the names of many familiar public figures and the stories that had appeared in the paper about them.

This revelation may add to the pressure for a further investigation into how widespread phone hacking was, and who knew about it. Already the Chairman of the Commons Media Committee, John Whittingdale, has said he may re-open his inquiry into the affair.

Andy CoulsonSo, is David Cameron right to be "relaxed" about the implications for his Director of Communications, Andy Coulson?

Certainly, he must have known the risk when he hired Coulson just months after he had been forced to resign as the editor of the News of the World. At the time Coulson said he knew nothing about what had happened, although as editor he'd taken full responsibility for it. The Guardian is clear this morning that it has no evidence to the contrary.

The Tories' first reaction to the Guardian story was that it only contained one new revelation - that the News of the World had reached a huge out-of-court settlement with Gordon Taylor, the leader of the footballers union, one of those whose phones it had hacked into. As this deal was reached after Coulson resigned they argued that this was a story not about politics but the media.

Their hope was that many papers would steer clear of this story since their own journalists are alleged to have indulged in blagging - paying to obtain private data under false pretences - if not hacking.

They argue that the interventions of John Prescott, Charles Clarke and Alastair Campbell should be seen simply as a politically motivated campaign to damage David Cameron and one of his key advisers.

This morning the Tory leader has sought to distinguish between what Coulson did in the past at the News of the World and what he does now for him by declaring:

"I believe in giving people a second chance. As director of communications for the Conservatives, he does an excellent job in a proper, upright way at all times."

The problem he faces is that new questions are now being opened about the past.

It is now clear that phone hacking at the News of the World was much more widespread than previously thought; that it targeted senior ministers not just celebrities and that, if the Guardian is correct, at least one of the paper's executives knew about it. This is leading to calls - not just from Labour politicians - for Andy Coulson to answer questions about what he knew and to questions about whether he should be at David Cameron's side.

That is why I am sure that David Cameron is anything but "relaxed", as was claimed last night.

Coulson has already broken rule one for any spin doctor - "Never become the story". He's good enough at his job to know that this story will soon become one about David Cameron's judgement.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    Perhaps you should have a look at Guido's blog, Nick. There are labour dirty tricks at play here. I think that they may end up regretting having stirred up a hornet's nest. News International will surely know where a lot of bodies are buried.

  • Comment number 2.

    Oh phooey. Labour has had the nastiest spin machine ever - Campbell, McBride, Draper et al.

    I think Coulson is telling the truth in that he was not complicit and new nothing of these shannigans.

    The way the public feel about Labour politicians at present I would think any snooping, albeit illegal, is fair sport.

    Labour is so very very afraid of DC and the Conservatives they would jump on any chance to smear them.

    Won't work.

    Who cares? Most of us don't, actually.

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  • Comment number 4.

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  • Comment number 5.

    This whole story just smells of Labour desperation - they are trying to whip this up into a media circus to smear David Cameron.


    Has Damian McBride really left, or are Ed Balls, Tom Watson, Derek Draper and Charlie Whelan still at work trying to discredit people who would seek to replace the weird lunatic at Number 10?

  • Comment number 6.

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  • Comment number 7.

    Ah Nick - at LAST u can TRY and slate the Tories - who cares - how about U investigating and reporting on Mandelson and Deripaska - Balls -Cooper expenses - Brown and HIS expenses - but hey anything that MIGHT annoy the next Govt is right up your street - did Campbell never do anything wrong???? - any sane person can see this for what it is - a very crude attempt by LIEBOUR to tarnish Tories - where is McBride by the way - why no expose of him???? - oh Guido will do that.

  • Comment number 8.

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  • Comment number 9.

    I always thought that hiring Coulson was a bad decision by David Cameron. Turns out I was right.

  • Comment number 10.

    How much did/does Rupert Murdoch know about this?

  • Comment number 11.

    Well Nick you're big enough now to know that with this blog entry, *you* are effectively questioning Cameron's judgement.

    Shame you had no such thoughts towards Gordon Brown's judgement over Damien McBridge and Red Rag eh?

  • Comment number 12.

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  • Comment number 13.

    Did Mr Coulson testify under oath at the trial? If not, why not? It seems to be a great oversight by the Prosecution if Mr Coulson was not cross-examined about what he knew.

  • Comment number 14.

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  • Comment number 15.

    Until Andy Coulson is caught red-handed, like the way Labour's Smear Campaign Unit was, then this is a non story. Any number of bitter ex-Labour ministers looking for something to beat the tories with does not make the man is guilty of anything.
    If Andy Coulson is proved to have lied about this then I would expect his sacking and rightly so.
    Whatever happened to innocent until proved guilty? Oh that's right, Labour have taken away most of our freedoms.

  • Comment number 16.

    Might have guessed we wouldn't have a post about politics - just more tittle tattle about the Westminster village.

    It seemed perverse for Cameron to take on board a former News of the World editor. Coulson said he knew nothing about the illegal activities, but resigned because he took responsibility. (The Guardian says nothing to the contrary...)

    Maybe Cameron thought it would be a good idea if politicians/Ministers, too, would resign while taking responsibility for things that went wrong in their departments. When did that last happen?

    It makes no difference whether Coulson goes or stays. The UK is in a state of chaos.

    Treasury proposals to control financial institutions divide the opinions of the experts.
    The armed forces do not get all the equipment they need. ("We must expect more sacrifices" says the Minister. That's easy to say, when it's someone else's life at stake.)
    Brown's rediculous effort to rush through a Bill to sort out the HoC situation (even before the report HE commissioned to examine the matter properly won't report for months) looks like a dog's dinner.

    Compare and contrast the impact of Cameron's "judgement" on selecting a Communications advisor with Brown's "judgement" that poor people should be stuffed (10p tax...) because he can't be seen to change his mind.

    No wonder the country's in such a mess, when trivia beats serious issues in the political editor's mind.

    I expected more from you, Nick.

  • Comment number 17.

    Nick, anyone who read your blog for news would believe that the Labour party has no problems and that the Tories were on the ropes with the tiny scraps of bad news you find and elevate to headlines.
    So a guy used to work for a company that has now behaved unethically - should he really be fired?
    Nick, you work for an organisation best described as the propaganda wing of the Labour party - have you seen your headlines in the last month?

    I note that the honourable members with the murkiest pasts are shouting the loudest - I hope they blow this can of worms wide open and take the consequences!!

  • Comment number 18.

    A man is innocent until proven innocent or his CV ultimately proves to be flawed. Cameron recruited a person in good faith and based on all he could prove 100%. If this person is now found guilty based on new evidence he gets fired. That's the limit of the Tories responsibility. Labour can try to make of this suddenly emerging revelation what they can. It's so transparent. It might have been more plausible if it wasn't Prescott's phone that was top of the list. What for - to find out how many takeaways he ordered every day?

  • Comment number 19.

    Cameron's judgment may be wrong on this one but by any stretch of the imagination if this is comparable to Brown - with McBride, Gurkhas, 10p tax, economic policy, climate policy, in fact most things he is completely the other end of the scale.
    Cameron has worked very effectively to change the tories and will be our next PM when Brown is forced out. Tragically he will inherit a disgusting mess. The former life of his advisor should not detract from the message the man is trying to offer.
    Now we know you take your newsfeed from various sources so why not ask the government ministers who are implicated here how they now feel about policy to tap all of our lines?

  • Comment number 20.

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  • Comment number 21.

    Nick, you said;

    Coulson has already broken rule one for any spin doctor - "Never become the story".

    Unlike Campbell, McBride and others Coulson didn't say anything to become the story. In fact he's said remarkably little for a 'spin doctor'.

    There has been a section of the press doing some pretty despicable things for the best part of 100 years. Makes the National Enquirer look tame at times. Probably the most that Coulson can be accused of is naivety, isn't it? And he fell on his sword for that!

    Commonsense was never the attribute of the media.

    As commented elsewhere Guido has some valid points.

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  • Comment number 26.

    Labour is so very very afraid of DC and the Conservatives they would jump on any chance to smear them.

    Won't work.

    Who cares? Most of us don't, actually.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Patricia,

    Your so biased, and one sided, I doubt anyone really cares what you think - David Cameron could announce he's going to crash the earth into the sun as tory policy for 2010, and you'd still refuse to vote labour.


    Labour party are accused of attempting to leak info the media - Labour smear!

    Tory communication minister potentially involved in the same thing - Labour smear for commenting on it!

  • Comment number 27.

    "ny sane person can see this for what it is - a very crude attempt by LIEBOUR to tarnish Tories - where is McBride by the way - why no expose of him???? - oh Guido will do that"


    Any sane person, who wants their comments to be taken seriously, does not call the government "liebour".

    The point here is - the tory party are all for leaks, smears, spin, as long as Gordon Brown and J Smith is the target.

    The tory party are happy to criticise Gordon Brown for doing the leaking, and playing tricks.

    As soon as the most obvious point ever is revealed in the public - the tory party are probably responsible for a few dirty tricks of their own, alledgedly - they start rattling on!

  • Comment number 28.

    I do not think this has got anything to do with Labour being afraid of Cameron. He will expose himself as a shallow lightweight political operator,as he did in his leadership live debate with Davies.

    Boris got it right on the radio this morning.It is about journalists having the judgement to decide when this sort of practice provides a story vital to the national interest, or if it is an abuse of the position they hold in our democracy.

    The more they abuse this position then it will lead to tighter controls on them, to the detriment of democracy as a whole.

    Do they have the self control to exercise those judgements wisely? I fear not.

  • Comment number 29.

    Seriously - if a disgraced ex-editor, of the News of the World, is your communications officer - is this really that surprising.

    Cameron's whole campaign has been built on leaks

  • Comment number 30.

    What a handful of people did to a few hundred people in the name of public interests and circulation are done by few thousands people to 60 million people in the name of security.

  • Comment number 31.

    Amazing. Here is a story about the NotW breaking the law by hacking into people's mobile phones, and the first responses on here are to blame the Labour Party. I don't know whether the report that Nick no longer reads the comments on his own blog because they tend to be so nonsensical, but on the basis of this evidence I wouldn't blame him if it was.

    On the actual story, IF the allegations are true it is surely inconceivable that the editor of the paper could not have known about what was going on? As the two former editors said on Newsnight last night, the first question any editor always asks about any story is "where did you get the information" - that has to be asked so that a view can be taken about its accuracy.

  • Comment number 32.

    The theory that an editor in chief of a trashy tabloid newspaper, knew nothing about this sort of culture of phone-hacking, leaks, and spin is ridiculous.

    And for the leader of the opposition, to hire a disgraced hack like this to be his spin doctor, is testament to how he has run his campaign thus far

  • Comment number 33.

    I find it hard to believe people will get very excited about journalists hacking celebs' phones. Don't most people (if it's even crossed their minds, which I doubt) expect this to be going on anyay?

    A much moe interesting angle is why hadn't GCHQ spotted this a long time ago, tipped off the police and prosecutions brought? I suspect GCHQ knew. I suspect the police knew. I suspect many a political hack knew. I suspect many politicans knew and some have decided now is a good time to ramp the story up to embarrass the Tories. I'm off to read Guido now, to see if that is what's being said over there...

  • Comment number 34.

    At last! A stick with which you can beat the Tories, Nick! It must come as a welcome release not to have to try to put the government's bad news days in a good light!

    This is a none-story, just like many of the other anti-Tory stories that have had the pro-Labour media in a frenzy!

    IF Andy Coulson did anything wrong, it wasn't while working for Cameron. He hasn't tried to dream up a smear campaign against the Government, or invent new initiatives that will never work etc. etc. You say that no evidence has been uncovered that he was involved in the NoW phone tapping, but he he did the honorable thing by resigning because, as Editor, the buck stopped with him.

    Pity Gordon Brown won't follow his example!

  • Comment number 35.

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  • Comment number 36.

    Nick Says,
    So, is David Cameron right to be "relaxed" about the implications for his Director of Communications, Andy Coulson?
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

    No hes not right to be relaxed about the whole thing & this only goes to show that Cameron is becoming as arrogant as Brown & hes not even PM yet.

    Part of the Tory strategy has been to criticise the government for being too lenient to their supporters when they have been shown to have done wrong.
    The fact that Cameron employed the man in the first place, knowing the risks, shows a flawed lack of judgement.
    If Cameron is half the man he recons he is, he would sack Coulson & carry out damage limitations because the last thing the UK public want to see is more sleaze than we already have.

    Oh Dave, so close to number 10 & youre already are dropping the banana skins.
    As Homer simpson would say, DOH.


  • Comment number 37.

    Well Nick you're big enough now to know that with this blog entry, *you* are effectively questioning Cameron's judgement.

    Shame you had no such thoughts towards Gordon Brown's judgement over Damien McBridge and Red Rag eh?


    =========================================================================

    I think you will find that the McBride move, and hiring was slated in the press for weeks. Including this blogger.

    The issue is that tory voters don't appreciate Cameron spin doctors getting the same treatment.

    It's very much a case of "hush, don't talk about it", it seems

  • Comment number 38.

    I wonder how many tory MPs were targeted.........

    I'd wager none

  • Comment number 39.

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  • Comment number 40.

    Is 'relaxed' an arrogant toff euphemism for he has my support until things get worse?

    This is just another sign that we're out of the frying pan and into the fire at the next election.... there's very little difference between New Labour and the ModCons.

  • Comment number 41.

    Oh this is really turning into a classic Labour Smear operation. Ben Bradshaw reckons David Cameron has questions to answer? Eh? I didn't realise Mr Cameron worked for the NOTW. Labour are doing their best to stir up innuendo to distract from their myriad troubles.
    How desperate.

  • Comment number 42.

    Nick,

    The thing with cover-ups is who knew and who did not?

    Are you seriously suggesting that the police, CPS knew but the Deputy Prime Minister did not? Did MI5 know? Did Tony Blair know but kept it from Prescott?

    More questions are raised than answered.

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  • Comment number 45.

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  • Comment number 46.

    Non-story in a quiet period for political news

  • Comment number 47.

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  • Comment number 48.

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  • Comment number 49.

    On the Starship (free) Enterprise - Shields up - the Guardasians have fired a salvo of photon torpedoes.....




  • Comment number 50.

    I don't remember any newlabour apologists complaining when Rupert Murdoch instructed his readers to vote new labour at the last three general elections.

    All a bit different right now isn't it?

    It's a shame it has come to this but we are in the death throes of a fiscally and politically incontinent newlabour administration; dishing insults and cash out like there was no tomorrow.

    Call an election

  • Comment number 51.

    A few things have become much clearer this morning. It is now blindingly obvious that the press complaints commission is a joke. There is no body that regulates the media and without this the tabloids at least are running wild. Not in the name of openness or justice but simply for the sake of salacious gossip. The media must be properly regulated. It is ludicrous to think they can self-regulate, any more than the banks or Westminster.
    And just one week after David Cameron threatened to remove Ofcom's powers should he become next Prime Minister after they dared speak out against Sky tv's monopoly his judgement is again being called into question. Cameron knows he will need News International working overtime to become next Prime Minister. Personally I could never vote for a man who would employ someone like Andy Coulson.

  • Comment number 52.

    Damien McBrides private e-mails appear in Sunday Newspaper. He claims they were hacked.

    Tory MP accused of trying to solicit home-office information out of civil servant.

    Jacqui Smiths expenses appear in Sunday Newspaper

    All MP expenses appear in Sunday newspaper.

    Guardian alledge NOTW paid off people they had allegedly hacked.


    1: Newspapers, and there need for exclusives, are at the heart of it.

    2: Hiring the ex editor in chief, of the News of the World a paper completely built on leaks and exposes as your communications officer, is probably telling the general public how you plan to run your campaign.

    Leaks, smears, and spin

  • Comment number 53.

    Lots of opportunists here trying to make this about Labour. I don't expect any different on this blog, but you're all missing the point (as are those trying to use it to attack the integrity of the Tories).

    Nick Davies, the journalist who has been investigating all this has already done us all a huge favour by providing an insight into the underhand, immoral and illegal methods of Fleet Street in his book 'Flat Earth News'. Those who thought the McBride/Red Rag scandal was as bad as it got should try reading that.

    My conclusion is that - EVEN with the MP's expenses scandal - journalists are frequently far far more worthy of our contempt than politicians. The fact that politicians are publicly funded doesn't change that.

  • Comment number 54.

    "This whole story just smells of Labour desperation - they are trying to whip this up into a media circus to smear David Cameron."

    McBride's e-mails being leaked to the press?

  • Comment number 55.

    While this could reflect badly on Cameron's judgement at the moment I fail to understand where the story is.

    There currently doesn't appear to be any proof that Coulson even knew about any wrong doing and he only resigned because he was the editor of the paper and those implicated worked for him.

    I very much doubt that a MP or Minister would resign if someone on their staff/department did something unethical/illegal.

  • Comment number 56.

    "So a guy used to work for a company that has now behaved unethically - should he really be fired?
    Nick, you work for an organisation best described as the propaganda wing of the Labour party - have you seen your headlines in the last month?"


    Lojo - Tory voter view

    Anyone not bashing the government, and hating Brown is "biased".

    It's the entire tory mentality. This way is right - anyone who doesn't think it is an idiot.

    Try reading The Daily Mail

  • Comment number 57.

    Any chance you could do a piece about Alistair Campbell & Peter Mandelson and their effect on the media since the 1990s ?

    I'm sure many people would be interested to learn how they have subverted the popular press and turned the BBC into a New Labour lapdog, certainly more interested than they are about this.

    The media are as guilty as the politicians these days, you're all just trying to manipulate people so instead of providing them with facts you always give us a load of opinion instead. That's why we're getting stories about the Tory press officers while you all sit silently whenever the real problems are discussed, namely that unelected officials within the government are being paid with public funds to deceive the public about the things the government are doing.

  • Comment number 58.

    " man is innocent until proven innocent or his CV ultimately proves to be flawed. Cameron recruited a person in good faith and based on all he could prove 100%. If this person is now found guilty based on new evidence he gets fired. That's the limit of the Tories responsibility."


    Hiring a News of the World editor, to run your media campaign - you could argue that he hired him for the exact exposes and leaks that have dominated the media for the last year

  • Comment number 59.

    26. At 10:36am on 09 Jul 2009, Mike_Naylor wrote:
    Labour is so very very afraid of DC and the Conservatives they would jump on any chance to smear them.

    Won't work.

    Who cares? Most of us don't, actually.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Patricia,

    Your so biased, and one sided, I doubt anyone really cares what you think - David Cameron could announce he's going to crash the earth into the sun as tory policy for 2010, and you'd still refuse to vote labour.


    Labour party are accused of attempting to leak info the media - Labour smear!

    Tory communication minister potentially involved in the same thing - Labour smear for commenting on it!

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Pot kettle black scenario Mr Naylor

    Who are you speaking for when you so rudely say " no one really cares what you think " ?

  • Comment number 60.

    In the current climate, Dave would be advised to drop Coulson like a hot potato.

    For God's sake, our politicians are already demonstrating that they fail to spend sufficient energy and/or time on the dire state of the nation. The last thing we need now is another act in the media/political circus that detracts from the fundamental point that we're going bankrupt ... whilst our politicians play their self-centred games.

    We need to see some ruthless focus by our political elite (ha!) on what really matters: the security and wellbeing people of this country ... not yet another episode in Westminster political shenanigans.

  • Comment number 61.

    Well what do you know, for never mind the state the U.K. is in, lets have a good old fashion game of Political Espionage whereby once again Spin-Doctors are now themselves the Front Line story.

    There should be enought mileage of Spinning in this Story to welt the appetite of all Political Commentators and keep them in a frenzie.

    Therefore folks: Normal Service will be resumed as soon as possible.

  • Comment number 62.

    With the last year being dominated by leaks, smears, spin is it actually any real surprise that Camerons communications officer is the ex editor of a red top?

    Maybe its a case of fighting fire with fire, from tory HQ, but it makes sense of a lot of things.

    Its been quite obvious to me that Labour have been at the mercy of a vicious leaks, smear campaign for the last year or so.

    Even the e-mails, from McBride, basically discussing the counter attack were found and ended up in the press.

    In truth this entire story, could just be a counter attack in itself.

    However bearing in mind how hard Labour were hit, and how much media attention the McBride story garnered, its plain ignorant for tory voters to now say whats the problem, who cares. Yada yada yada.

    Id say, if true, its even more serious. And could cost him his job. Even his liberty

  • Comment number 63.

    "Unlike Campbell, McBride and others Coulson didn't say anything to become the story. In fact he's said remarkably little for a 'spin doctor'."

    Campbell was barely known in the mass media, until maybe 2002, in regards to Labour.

    He went about a decade, tricking away in the sidelines.

    That's the key to being a succesful media advisor.

    Coulson is already headline news, and they aren't even in government yet.

    He's obviously gone far too aggresive, with his alledged campaign, and upset people.

  • Comment number 64.

    Well Well Well News International (the sun) where great supporter of one T Blair and kept him in power by backing with mainly the SUN.

    The Editor might or might not have Known but I sure Mr Murdoch new more than he is letting on.

    Cast your minds back to the Leo Blair Kidknapp plot, where the sun broke a story and it was the only paper to break this story (some 6 weeks after the alleged conversations were supported to have taken place)

    Where those involved to this day maintain there was no such plot or even a conversation that coul dhave been interpreted as such

    This like the Banks is an area where Breakup is required as they have too much influence.

  • Comment number 65.

    Politics is a dirty business. tabloid journalism even dirtier; so its no surprise that yet another ex-journo is causing his political masters some pain but this seems to go far deeper than a mere UK version of Watergate. It seems, if the Guardian is correct that the Judiciary, CPS and the police colluded or passively acquiesced in keeping this secret. Thats actually much more important than the debate about cammys communication aide. If true that suggests we the people are back to the bad old days of knowing our place and allowing our betters to sort out things behind closed doors.
    We (sort of) trusted MPs then we got the expenses scandal
    We (mostly) trusted the Police but scandal after scandal has put a stop to that
    Now it seems we cannot trust the judiciary either.

  • Comment number 66.

    Nick dearest

    How is your (professional) relationship with Mr. Coulson? You don't seem to have the same access to Cameron as you do to Brown.

    ***

    I would question the integrity of anyone who has worked for the gutter press. Is employing people like that necessary for political survival?
    It's backfired on Labour, will it backfire on the Tories?

  • Comment number 67.

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  • Comment number 68.

    Presumably Cameron is "relaxed" because he's asked Coulson for assurances he is not involved in these matters and received such assurances. What do you suggest he does in those circumstances? Decide not to believe him and sack him anyway?

    It goes without saying that the BBC will make Cameron the story here. As with Mandleson and Deripaska, anything that can reasonably be spun to damage the Tories and deflect from Labour is fair game it would seem.

    The sound of Alistair Campbell taking the moral high ground is just so hilarious it defies parody.

  • Comment number 69.

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  • Comment number 70.

    32. At 10:43am on 09 Jul 2009, Mike_Naylor wrote:
    The theory that an editor in chief of a trashy tabloid newspaper, knew nothing about this sort of culture of phone-hacking, leaks, and spin is ridiculous.

    And for the leader of the opposition, to hire a disgraced hack like this to be his spin doctor, is testament to how he has run his campaign thus far
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    So what is your view on Labour hiring ( again ) Mandy ?

  • Comment number 71.

    This blogger looks forward to that happy day when the Tories, Labour and Lib-Dems are 'unbecoming the story'.

    Because the sub-text of Nick's piece is that leopards (main-stream political parties) do not change their spots.

    Just as it is laughable to expect MP's to 'self-regulate' their behaviour, then it is equally unrealistic to expect them to modify some of their darker practises.

    Away with them all.

    PS. And the Lords too, who have mysteriously mostly escaped the expenses spotlight despite troughing it bigtime and not even being accountable to the electorate.

  • Comment number 72.

    "Mike_Naylor wrote:
    Patricia,

    Your so biased, and one sided, I doubt anyone really cares what you think - David Cameron could announce he's going to crash the earth into the sun as tory policy for 2010, and you'd still refuse to vote labour."

    To be fair there are people on both sides of the political divide who this can apply to and I think most sane people take their comments with a pinch of salt (or just ignore them totally!)


    "Labour party are accused of attempting to leak info the media - Labour smear!

    Tory communication minister potentially involved in the same thing - Labour smear for commenting on it!"

    If this is potentially the same thing then this IS a big story and will reflect very badly on the Tories. However, at the moment this seems to be a different issue.

    From what I understand of the current issue Coulson was previously editor of the NotW (before working for the Tories) and members of his team were involved in hacking the phones of senior politicians. There is currently no indication that Coulson was involved or even knew of this.

  • Comment number 73.

    With its pay-TV, LCD, celebrity driven, hard news lacking ethos, the Murdoch empire has done more to bring down the quality of life in Britain than any other media outlet. Perhaps it's time for the government to step in and close it down.

  • Comment number 74.

    Nick,
    Great story but really smacks of Mandy's dirty tricks, clearly he has more time on his hands than he should. Are you happy with being used like this?

  • Comment number 75.

    "Mike_Naylor wrote:
    Seriously - if a disgraced ex-editor, of the News of the World, is your communications officer - is this really that surprising.

    Cameron's whole campaign has been built on leaks"

    While I agree that Cameron's campaign has mostly been built on leaks (the rest is Labour in-fighting and making vague promises which sound good)

    I am not sure if the ex-editor can be considered disgraced. If the current story is to be believed he resigned because he was the Editor rather then any direct involvement (the resignation of the head of the department is what opposition leaders always demand when there is a failing in a government department - it just appears that in this case that happened!)

  • Comment number 76.

    If Andy Coulson was complicit in this whilst at the NotW, then it's a matter for the police and the legal system. I fail to see what it has to do with the conservative party - I doubt that the details would have been on Coulson's CV when he went for the job.

  • Comment number 77.

    I can see that a reasonable percentage of posts have already been referred or removed so I will try to tread carefully.

    The Guardian and the Labour party are playing a very dangerous game here. I am somewhat reminded of Jonathon Aitken and his sword of justice.

    I am not a big fan of News Corporation be it their UK newspapers; Sky or Fox in the States but surely everyone must realise that as far as the next General Election goes Rupert Murdoch and his UK papers and tv will be a big player in the stories up to the election.

    There is an interesting piece about Rebekkah Wade's wedding in this weeks Private Eye and the attendance of and length of stay of various politicians. The BBC breakfast news this AM made comments about Mr Murdoch being aware of this story and in some way complicit.

    I am sure Machiavelli would tell Messrs Clarke, Prescott & Campbell that they are courting danger.

    If there was one person in the media I wouldn't want as an enemy Rupoert Murdoch would be at the top of my list.



  • Comment number 78.


    Those calling for Coulson and Murdoch's head should be careful what they wish for, there's a lot of muck just waiting to be raked up here.

    New Labour cronies are having a field day milking this for all it's worth. But in a battle of the spin doctors this smells like a stitch-up.

    The Cameron supporting Murdoch group is under attack from New Labour which was stung by the McBride scandal.

    At the end of the day revenge is a dish best served up by a cold New Labour supporting Guardian and Coulson may have to go.

    But outside the Westminster village no one is batting an eyelid. Are there not more important things to worry about?

    http://theorangepartyblog.blogspot.com/2009/07/phew-what-stitch-up.html

  • Comment number 79.

    This is not just about politics or 'the Westminster village'. It's about the UK media, universally regarded with a combination of awe and contempt.
    It's about a toothless press monitoring system. It's about political leaders - of all parties - in hock to media moguls. And worse, it appears that in this instance the judiciary and the police fell into line.
    Consequently, to dismiss it as a 'desperate' Labour Party trying to embarrass Cameron is to either not understand the significance of this case or else to be so politically blinkered as to have no worthwhile contribution.

  • Comment number 80.

    Mr Robinson, what I find most astonishing, worrying and downright depressing about this whole '..phone hacking..' story is the response to your Article from the first 34 on this Blog.

    From londonlavenderbag, jonathan_cook to rockbigphil... onwards every single Comment just accepts that such 'hacking' was not only a NOW newspaper practise but also went/goes on amongst all the politicians and Political Party as well as so-called elite establishment!
    Basically, Mr Robinson, if we take the content of their Contributions as anything like representative of the UK Public not one member of the British Electorate doubts that the Political Leadership of these Isles are corrupt at every level. There is no confidence whatsoever in any of the Political leadership.
    Is it not time Mr Robinson you raised your journalistic game: I have asked that BBC do this before but it seems imperative now. The British People need someone to REPRESENT them at this crucial stage.

    Is it not time for the British Broadcasting Corporation to take a hand in thoroughly investigating, reporting and thereby representing the British Citizens?

    How is it the BBC can run-off at the mouth about Mid-East, Indian, Chinese, American, Russian etc. political shennigans, but, it is like a damp, amorphous sponge soaking up the devious, venal wretchedness of the British body-politic without once doing anything that could in any way be construed as Investigative Journalism?

    Why does the BBC Report the so-called 'Reform' agenda of Parliament and not ASK/TEST the veracity of what are basically no reform at all!?
    Why does the BBC Report the election of Speaker Bercow and not ASK/TEST how such a 2 x house flipper can possibly be an example of the 'reform' agenda!?
    Why does the BBC Report the 'phone hacking'-'double-speak'-'political spin' story and not ASK/TEST how it is the British Public would appear to expect nothing else from those sub-standard, corrupt, reprobates presently in the Palace of Westminster!?

  • Comment number 81.

    A very sad attempt to avenge the McBride exposee - so funny to hear Prescott's indignant huffing and puffing from "somewhere in Cumbria" on ITV this morning, especially when the subject turned to his tax-payer funded infidelity...more spluttering.....surely this was very much in the national interest, ie his integrity given his position of responsibility.

  • Comment number 82.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 83.

    Mike_Naylor


    you are the most politically biased blogger on here.

    What is the weather like today in cloud cuckoo land today?

    This all about the Westminster bubble people outside are not interested.

    As far as I can see Coulson took responsibility and resigned. This is not the fabrication of smear stories linking right to the judgement of the PM.

    Now what did ZaNuLabour want this morning?
    To equate Coulson with Mc Poison.

    What did they need to do that?

    Compliant hacks to run with the story.

    Is anyone reliable that they can count on to run the story?

    Read this blog and you have your answer.

    From past blogs I knew before I came to this blogs that this would be Nicks lead and I was right.

    This country is going to hell in a hand cart, we are printing more and more money to try and get movement in the economy before the election so that the sheeple can be fooled again.

    And this is the topic for discussion?

    Despicable.

  • Comment number 84.

    > I wonder how many tory MPs were targeted.........

    > I'd wager none

    Boris Johnson for one, you lose!

  • Comment number 85.

    "I find it hard to believe people will get very excited about journalists hacking celebs' phones. Don't most people (if it's even crossed their minds, which I doubt) expect this to be going on anyay?

    A much moe interesting angle is why hadn't GCHQ spotted this a long time ago, tipped off the police and prosecutions brought? I suspect GCHQ knew. I suspect the police knew. I suspect many a political hack knew. I suspect many politicans knew and some have decided now is a good time to ramp the story up to embarrass the Tories. I'm off to read Guido now, to see if that is what's being said over there..."


    The same Guido who found fame by revealing that McBride had alledgedly been planning leaks...........

    On the Guido website it was uproar!

    I assume the same patrons will be saying this is all alright........

  • Comment number 86.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 87.

    "This is a none-story, just like many of the other anti-Tory stories that have had the pro-Labour media in a frenzy!"

    Voters like you were salivating over the McBride story for weeks.

    It seems it's only "bad form" when a tory is involved

  • Comment number 88.

    "Oh this is really turning into a classic Labour Smear operation. Ben Bradshaw reckons David Cameron has questions to answer? Eh? I didn't realise Mr Cameron worked for the NOTW. Labour are doing their best to stir up innuendo to distract from their myriad troubles.
    How desperate"


    So was the McBride situation (e-mails alledgedly hacked, published on the tory equivilant of the notorious "red rag") a tory smear campaign?

    As in, is exposing this sort of thing a smear?

  • Comment number 89.

    Think the Lib Dems put it correctly:

    "Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne said: "At the very least Andy Coulson was responsible for a newspaper that was out of control and at worst he was personally implicated.

    'Either way, a future prime minister cannot have someone who is involved in these sort of underhand tactics. The exact parallel is with Damian McBride.

    'If it is more than a thousand (phone taps) it seems most unlikely to me to have been just one journalist. There needs to be a full investigation.'
    "

    It's only fair that this receives the same scrutiny and criticism as the McBride case

  • Comment number 90.

    It will be interesting to see how far is this going to go, and if the press and politicians are going to be able to resist the pressure from N.I.

    Politicians do rely on the support of Mr.Murdoch, we should not forget Tony Blair's pre election trip to Australia. Labour probably now wants Mr. Coulson to stay becoming a damaged good and easy target, therefore I would not be surprised to see Mr. Cameron letting him go.

  • Comment number 91.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 92.

    According to Guido:

    "An excited Labour spin-doctor called Guido yesterday evening and said were going to do to Coulson what you did to McBride its going to be Coulson, Coulson, Coulson all day."

    So I expect we can see the Labour plants on the blog in force. How many new posters targeting the Tories can we expect?

  • Comment number 93.

    I am perplexed as to why this has become just a political story? Aren't there celebrities and athletes who's phones and machines have also been tapped into?

    How was this able to happen on such a large scale? To so many individuals?

    This seems to me to be a MUCH bigger story than merely the Labour party attempting to make David Cameron look like a fool.




  • Comment number 94.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 95.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 96.

    I know your area is politics Nick, but to be honest I already assume politicians and everything to do with them is shady so Cameron & some obscure advisor isn't the big issue to me.

    What I do find more interesting is that the police had a list, but the matter has only been dealt with via the civil courts.

    This morning there was a herd of five of them pointing a speed laser at me as I left my estate, before I could get to work (20 miles) another one in a van was pointing a camera at me. Six police, two cars, one van, expensive camera and laser gear to investigate me. Clearly they have no shortage of resources or personnel.

    But they can't be bothered to investigate a serious crime.

    Rather than the advisor I think the big story is why we can't get the police to deal with crimes.

  • Comment number 97.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 98.


    " I read the newspaper avidly, it is my one form of continuous fiction"

    Aneurin Bevan

  • Comment number 99.

    Cameron said the decent thing, and after a due period for an irresistible groundswell of chuntering to build (the bother the NoW have got into is serious and has mileage in it, summer recess or no), he will do the expedient thing and sling the guy out. A narrative slightly more predictable than a TV soap, and totally predictable in British politics.

  • Comment number 100.

    Looking forwards to seeing which political party actually has the moxy to take a murdoch owned newspaper to task over what is clearly unacceptable practices.

    Although 2 articles i've read seem to be implying that the police & the court which dealt with the original royal phone taps have tried to cover this up once already.

    Maybe this whole stuation will give us some idea how much political powe & influence power the much-maligned murdoch media actually has in britain.

 

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