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Cameron aide emerges unscathed

Nick Robinson | 14:48 UK time, Tuesday, 21 July 2009

At the end of an agonisingly long select committee hearing on phone hacking we finally got a newsworthy piece of evidence. Evidence, that is, of Andy Coulson's skills as a shaper of the news.

Andy CoulsonDavid Cameron's director of communications revealed that the police had called him only recently to reveal that his own mobile phone had been hacked into by the very private investigator who was jailed for illegal phone hacking when Coulson was editor of the News of the World.

Thus, the former editor turned spin doctor provided journalists with a top line for their stories about an otherwise dull enquiry (or am I missing something?).

The hearing was meant, of course, to examine what Andy Coulson knew about what had been going on at Britain's top-selling paper. The Guardian insists that it goes far beyond the approved News International version of events of a single journalist - a "bad apple" - who engaged in illegal activities without the knowledge of anyone else on the paper.

Today NI executives and Coulson persisted with that account. "Things went badly wrong under my editorship," he conceded, while insisting that he knew nothing about the hacking of phones or the paying of policemen.

None of the MPs who cross-questioned him today managed to blow a hole in that defence - no surprise, perhaps, since the Guardian has declared that it has no evidence to implicate him.

However, Plaid Cymru's Adam Price did make Coulson look uncomfortable when he presented him with a copy of paper he'd edited which trumpeted an "exclusive" about Prince Harry and Chelsy. Price suggested this story could only have come from the illegal phone hacking. Coulson's reply was that he had no involvement in or recollection of the story. No-one said what I imagine many were thinking - "come off it".

David Cameron will be told that his valued aide has emerged unscathed from today and may even break into a grin when he learns that he also managed to present himself as a victim rather than a villain in this story.

Comments

Page 1 of 4

  • Comment number 1.

    Which rather makes the whole thing like a damp squib that has blown up in the holder's (The Government's) face.

    Never mind I'm sure that if you dig deep enough you are bound to find something, anything, you can stick onto the tories. Such dedication!

  • Comment number 2.

    It's about power.
    And the skill's not in the crime,
    But not getting caught.

  • Comment number 3.

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

  • Comment number 4.

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

  • Comment number 5.

    Will there be a Parliamentary Committee Hearing about newspapers that resurrect a long-dead story and pretend it is new? Will they examine why a newspaper and the BBC, with no evidence, make this story headline news?

  • Comment number 6.

    Poor Nick. You must be gutted.

  • Comment number 7.

    "Which rather makes the whole thing like a damp squib that has blown up in the holder's (The Government's) face.

    Never mind I'm sure that if you dig deep enough you are bound to find something, anything, you can stick onto the tories. Such dedication"


    Your commenting on a spin doctor, who you probably didn't know existed, 2 months ago, in a headline story.

    The spin doctor is the headline news. Job already done.

    Once people knows a spin doctor exists, and how he works, there career is next to over.

    How is anyone going to take a Labour "leak" story seriously now? Oh, Coulson at work again...........yawn

  • Comment number 8.

    IF the Guardian has further `Evidence ` then put up or shut up. A very POOR effort by Liebours cronies to besmirch Cameron and Coulson - not on the same planet as McBride and his smears!!!

    Cmon Liebour supporters, the few who still believe , do try something original. Try Deripaska and Mandelson for starters.

  • Comment number 9.

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

  • Comment number 10.

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

  • Comment number 11.

    The most alarming point for me, was that a senior NOTW editor's name was on an e-mail (in the police evidence), with transcripts of hacked calls and:

    A: they did not investigate him at all
    B: they did not even approach him as a witness.

    Quite obvious - 2 fall guys. Let's not dig too deep, in case Rupert starts writing nasty headlines about us.

  • Comment number 12.

    Anyone would think, Nick, that you were disappointed at the way this story (which you thought important enough to run several blogs on) has turned out to be virtually a non-event. "evidence" that Andy Coulson is a "shaper of the news". I'm sorry, did I miss something? One blog you're saying how Coulson has failed by "becoming the story", next you are implying that he manipulated the whole thing.

    There is some shabby journalism going on at the moment and if you wanted to look into it, Nick, you wouldn't have to look too far to start the investigation.

  • Comment number 13.

    It is so difficult to smell moral corruption in a blog, but I am sure if the media mogels were to walk by you could smell it.
    Interesting how the media has determined that the truth is never important,it is the framing of the story. But, then again, people do perfer fiction in their reading.

  • Comment number 14.

    "IF the Guardian has further `Evidence ` then put up or shut up. A very POOR effort by Liebours cronies to besmirch Cameron and Coulson - not on the same planet as McBride and his smears!!!"

    Cameron's right hand guy in front of an inquiry, on potentially criminal allegations.

    Labour guy sending e-mails to his mate.

    Yeah, keep saying that to yourself.

    New LIebour? Why do you expect anyone to take you seriously, when you ae this biased

  • Comment number 15.

    "Will there be a Parliamentary Committee Hearing about newspapers that resurrect a long-dead story and pretend it is new? Will they examine why a newspaper and the BBC, with no evidence, make this story headline news?
    "

    What planet have you been on. Just because the Daily Mail, and The Sun have chosen to black it out (I wonder why). Doesn't mean there is nothing in it.

    Probably the most important Newspaper enquiry in the last 20 years.

  • Comment number 16.

    OK, now beware of postal votes, coming to a place near you (Norwich this week), and evicting democracy as a consequence.

    Postal votes will be a much bigger story than News of the World, McBride and expenses put together.

    http://www.unlockdemocracy.org.uk/electionpurity/?p=881

  • Comment number 17.

    So the Guardian has no evidence of its allegations but still the tax payers' money is wasted on a commons select committee and the BBC waste tax payers' money relentlessly pursuing the story.

    Can the BBC and the Guardian make clear just how much money they would like to waste making allegations without any evidence so that we can get them all properly costed and out of the way.

    Just how far are the Guardian and the BBC prepared to go to give airtime to innuendo for which there is no evidence?

    Quite a long way it would appear:

    http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2009/08/hitchens200908

    But as you can read at your leisure the real labour party appears to be about to stand up and speak for itself; they've had quite enough of these tactics.

    This episode is as shameless as the tories futile attempts to out Alistair Campbell before the newlabour victory in 1997. The alcoholism, the pornographic novels; they tried it all but to no avail.

    The sheer desperation of newlabour, Gordon Brown and the BBC show that they are finished; they will all go down together.

    I wish them well in the gnashing and wailings about what could have been if that historic fourth term had been won; gargauntuan public debt; more cash for the health service and education; a collapsing pound; the arrival of the IMF with an instruction manual on how to manage a third world country; the crowning of King Gordon; endless bills of rights; mass immigration; 95% top rates of tax; anyone on the minimuum wage to be given a guaranteed lifetime right to social housing; exams to be abolished and replaced with 'Awfully well done!' certificates; the motor industry toi be nationalised; all British workers to be guaranteed a British car; the proms to be declared elitist and racist.

    For crying out loud call an election.

  • Comment number 18.

    Cameron Aide emerge's unscathed.......

    I'm unsure how any spin doctor, who's whole job is based on digging dirt, in the background, can sit in front of an inquiry, broadcast around the world, and come out "unscathed".

    Especially when he answers every question with "I don't remember" or "I didn't see". Or "I wasn't looking at that time".

    Anyone with a brain realises that he is either:

    A: A complete imbecile, that has no future in any future government
    B: He's covering his knowledge up

  • Comment number 19.

    Mandelson and Campbell's plot to get rid of Coulson has backfired so badly.

    It is now clear who are the amateurs and who is the pro.

    The whole non story smelled from start to finish and to see the select committe struggling to find questions to ask was embarrassing.

    Perhaps they can all get on with the real story now. How to get this country out of the mess it's in.

  • Comment number 20.

    PS.

    Can anyone who wants be taken seriously, in political debate, stop using the term "New Liebores", and things akin to that.

    It's the political equivilant of a Man Utd fan and Liverpool fan having a discussion on who is actually the better team.

  • Comment number 21.

    And you're now, Nick, presuming to know David Cameron's reactions to the outcome. "May break into a grin"? What exactly is that supposed to imply? Are you suggesting that (i) Coulson is guilty of knowing about the phone tapping, (ii) that Cameron knows this and (iii) that Cameron is taking pleasure oin knowing that Coulson has 'got away with it'? If you are, I don't suppose for a second that you have any evidence for it?

    What do you think Gordon Brown did when it was accepted that he knew nothing about McBride? If Cameron was smiling, Brown would have been convulseved with laughter.

  • Comment number 22.

    In summary:-

    a) Many people (including prominent Labour MPs) believe or at least suspect Mr Coulson knew about or condoned the illegal phone hacking.
    b)He categorically denies knowing anything about it and there is no evidence to suggest he did (despite a police investigation and extensive inquiries by the Guardian)
    c)Mr Coulson nevertheless accepted responsibility for his newspaper's failings and resigned.
    d)MPs call Mr Coulson before a parliamentary committe to explain his position and some Labour MPs have said he is not a fit and proper person to be in his current job.
    e) Many people believe or at least suspect Gordon Brown knew about or at least condoned Damien McBride's activities (including the sending of false and defamatory emails)whilst working in the office next to Gordon Brown.
    f)Mr Brown denies this and there is no evidence to suggest he did (but of course no inquiry - his word is simply accepted).
    g)Mr Brown does not accept any personal resonsibility for the actions of his trusted and long term employee carried out from the offices of 10 Downing Street (As President Truman didn't say - "The buck stops next door") .
    h)Mr Brown has not been called before a parliamentary enquiry to answer for his employee's actions and no Labour MP has suggested he is not a fit and proper person for his current office (as opposed to being an electoral liability).
    Can any Labour supporter provide a fair and rational explanation for this rank hypocracy?

  • Comment number 23.

    Mike Naylor @14...

    "Cameron's right hand guy in front of an inquiry, on potentially criminal allegations.

    Labour guy sending e-mails to his mate."

    ..and you're NOT biased??

    As I remember it those 'e-mails to his mate' were the planning of a completely fabricated smear campaign on behalf of the Labour Party,Government and perhaps the PM.

    Good heavens ,talk about blinkered.

  • Comment number 24.

    Parliamentary Select Committees cannot grill a kipper effectively, so of course Coulson got off. He read out his defence very well. And those who do have the evidence dirt on him are saving it up for when he is top aide to Tory Prime Minister Cameron when his scalp will be much more exulted and newsworthy.

  • Comment number 25.

    Post 18 Mike Naylor says Coulson is either:

    A: A complete imbecile, that has no future in any future government
    B: He's covering his knowledge up.

    Seems like a fair desciption of Brown re the actions of Damien McBribe!

  • Comment number 26.

    What a disgrace....and David Cameron make out that he wants anew style of leadership....come off it it he has just copied Blair...This coulson in my opinion knows more than he seems to be saying. David Cameron is copying Tony Blair with a spin doctor...never mind a news aide....David you are the same old story and we can see that now...in my opinion.

  • Comment number 27.

    MPs investigating Journalists. An unedifying spectacle. Like watching a flies on a turd!

  • Comment number 28.

    It is so difficult to smell moral corruption in a blog, but I am sure if the media mogels were to walk by you could smell it.
    Interesting how the media has determined that the truth is never important,it is the framing of the story. But, then again, people do perfer fiction in their reading.

    Ive said it before, and Ill say it again. I do enjoy the right wing viewpoint of balanced reporting.

    As in, reporting good and bad on all parties.

    The tory voter view is always this is how something is. Anyone who veers away from such opinion is either biased, corrupt, or barmy.

    You know, the same people vying for blood, after they read about a Jacqui Smith leak in the Daily Mail for 5 weeks in a row, take offence when something actually newsworthy, hits the headlines.

  • Comment number 29.

    Mike_Naylor came onto this blog
    Some felt he came out from a log
    A labour party pup?
    Or merely winding us up?
    That marvellous rascally old dog.

  • Comment number 30.

    "So the Guardian has no evidence of its allegations but still the tax payers' money is wasted on a commons select committee and the BBC waste tax payers' money relentlessly pursuing the story.

    Can the BBC and the Guardian make clear just how much money they would like to waste making allegations without any evidence so that we can get them all properly costed and out of the way.
    "


    Robin

    Try reading about it before you vent your tory spleen.

    The story has never been that there is new evidence. Just that any evidence that exists has either been:

    1: Whitewashed
    2: Bought off
    3: Covered up

  • Comment number 31.

    moderated out again simply for being truthful ! At least my compass is moral ! Nick Robinson's ?

  • Comment number 32.

    "Are you suggesting that (i) Coulson is guilty of knowing about the phone tapping, (ii) that Cameron knows this and (iii) that Cameron is taking pleasure oin knowing that Coulson has 'got away with it'? If you are, I don't suppose for a second that you have any evidence for it?

    What do you think Gordon Brown did when it was accepted that he knew nothing about McBride? If Cameron was smiling, Brown would have been convulseved with laughter"


    Cameron hired a disgraced ex NOTW editor, to be his spin doctor.

    A guy who specialised in leaks, and exposes for the best part of 15 years.

    Stop playing the prima donna.

  • Comment number 33.

    "As I remember it those 'e-mails to his mate' were the planning of a completely fabricated smear campaign on behalf of the Labour Party,Government and perhaps the PM.

    Good heavens ,talk about blinkered. "

    Which was in response to the notorious Tory "Guido Fawkes" web site, which ironically leaked hacked Damian McBride e-mails to the media in the first place.

    More hacking on Andy's watch

    Good heavens, talk about blinkered

  • Comment number 34.

    Is Mike Naylor a Liebour No10 employee - is he biased???? - is he a product of the last 12 years??? - does he remember Mandelson, Robinson, Byers, Jowell, McBride, Martin, - have I got enough space - Iraq war - Bliar - David Kelly - still Mike u can keep paying MY share of tax for the next 20 years to ` celebrate` the Clown and Co having been in Govt.

  • Comment number 35.

    Hmmm.....reports about plumeting tax revenues, critical findings of Government policy, complaints about the timing of the release of news. = not worthy of a blog.

    Non-story of no evidence of years old allegations = let's have a blog insinuating that Cameron knows his man is guilty.

    No bias there then. Nick, you are becoming more and more like a child who delights in annoying people by shouting "bum" in church because you know your parents lack the willpower to discipline you.

  • Comment number 36.

    If you notice, Coulson answered basically every difficult question, with Not in my recollection.

    Hes not saying yes or no. Hes basically saying he doesnt remember.

    So his defence is that no editor, manager, senior journalist had any idea that anything was going on. And if it later turns out that they did, he forgot about it.

    Forget Media Advisor. Coulson needs a cabinet/shadow cabinet job

  • Comment number 37.

    "A: A complete imbecile, that has no future in any future government
    B: He's covering his knowledge up.

    Seems like a fair desciption of Brown re the actions of Damien McBribe!"


    The only difference being Brown sacked McBride, almost immediately. That's the entire political argument.

    A disgraced, ex red top editor, who quit over the whole charade, and who probably still has plenty of questions to ask, could very soon be an active part of a government.

    Makes the Alaistar Campbell affair look rather meagre

  • Comment number 38.

    On another note, the one thing that has probably come to light is that Newspapers need thorough regulation and auditing.

    As in, according to Coulson, no Editors actually have any idea where there stories come from.

    Just a load of rogue journalists, answering to no-one.

    They also probably need help in terms of memories. Not that I recollect is akin to telling teacher the dog ate my homework

  • Comment number 39.

    Another thing, in regards to Smeargate

    Weren't McBride's e-mails allegedly hacked, and leaked to the tory blogger?

    Wonder if Coulson had any recollection of that?

  • Comment number 40.

    Mike_Naylor...HA HA HA!

    To hell with you TU suckers.

  • Comment number 41.

    #32 Mike

    Coulson was "disgraced" in the sense of not having anything proved against him? As opposed, of course, to McBride. Saying that the political blog that broke the McBride story was tory is a bit like trying to defend a Belsen guard by saying the man who arrested him was a commie. McBride did what he did. No ifs, buts, doubts. There is no evidence linking Coulson to anything. Just accept it. Move on.

  • Comment number 42.

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

  • Comment number 43.

    I sincerely hope that this does not give Cameron the ability to paint himself as a victim. The issue was Coulson's conduct. He has been, questionably, exonerated. His career will bear the brunt of any forthcoming criticism. None of this shows Cameron as a victim, only that his decision to hire Coulson was not an unmitigated disaster for him.

  • Comment number 44.

    Hi Nick
    Having watched the Grilling, I though Coulson gave a credible performance, much more so than the managing editor, (whose name is too easy to misspell and end up running foul of the mods.) Yes, Coulsons seemed uneasy at times and the ability of NOW journos to keep him out of the loop and him not suspect it, is a little worrying for a communications director but I think on balance he gave a good account of himself. The other guy however was evasive, aggressive and such a bad witness I expected his nose to grow with each question. My Verdict: Coulson in the clear but News International Management up to their necks in the brown stuff with a lot of questions to be answered.

  • Comment number 45.

    I had not until recently realised how easy it is to wind up Mike-Naylor aka the former alcoholic and pornography writer and PR advisor to TB.

    It seem he is less than well pleased with his attempt to have Andy Coulson strung up.

    What goes around comes around....

    Call an election.

  • Comment number 46.

    The only reference to the Coulson phone blagging scandal on the Have Your Say page, is Nick Robinsons Unscathed blog, so I suppose Im stuck with it!
    Despite evidence, read into the Parliamentary Committees minute, that one of the serving Mps has received a letter from NI, described by the Speakers Solicitors, as an attempt to interfere with the business of the committee and the tapping of the Princes phones, paying Police Officers for leaks whilst he was Editor, Nick and BBC News, insist Coulson is unscathed!
    I appears to me evident that the BBC are positioning themselves for a change of Government. Their reporting of this affair has been little less than scandalous!
    Charles, Glasgow.

  • Comment number 47.

    Damian McBride - ZanuLiebours answer to everything - sums up the whole sorry, disgraced shower. Hope McBride makes up a complete fabrication, gets some mates involved, and attepmpts to blacken people without a shred of moral unease - oh, forgot, he ALREADY did that.

    WHO discussed that with him , WHO ordered it, no Clown, do not have any Parliamentary people investigating that- far too close to home.Roll on 2010 so Mr Naylor can post his solitary vote for ZanuLiebour and those who sent our troops on phoney wars to die for ZanuLiebour.

  • Comment number 48.

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

  • Comment number 49.

    At the risk of offending Mike naylor, who seems to be a one man band defence force for the labour party and its associated organ, the BBC, I would like politely to point out that the reason why so many right wing people appear so angry is that:
    1. Damian McBride was actually employed directly in number 10 while fabricating stories about Tory politicians, seemingly bringing the gutter politics into the heart of Government;
    2. So far as I know, David Cameron has never been employed by NOTW and is in no way connected to the phone tapping;
    3. There is no evidence that Coulson knew about the tapping and he resigned from his job when it came out;
    4. Those of us who are not aligned with a political party have watched in utter amazement at the spin machine over the last 12 years and the anger is a reflection of the sheer frustration at no-one holding labour to account for this.
    The deliberate attempt by a labour newspaper to conflate phone tapping with David Cameron's politics seems merely to continue the long line of spin, which most people I know are fed up with.

  • Comment number 50.

    9. . At 3:38pm on 21 Jul 2009, Mike_Naylor wrote:

    I know you must be gutted, but both the police and The Guardian have confirmed that there is no evidence linking Coulson to this. Move on.

  • Comment number 51.

    "39. At 4:25pm on 21 Jul 2009, Mike_Naylor wrote:
    Another thing, in regards to Smeargate

    Weren't McBride's e-mails allegedly hacked, and leaked to the tory blogger?

    Wonder if Coulson had any recollection of that?"

    Once again, why do you think it matters how what McBride did came to the public's attention? The Yorkshire Ripper was caught because of a nosey policeman. Does that make him any less guilty? McBride did what he did. Accept it. Move on.

  • Comment number 52.

    Nick, If you think Coulson is not telling the truth then why not accuse him outright. This would show that you are a journalist with true morals.
    By the way do you get all of your information "legally".

  • Comment number 53.

    Hoorah!

    Another non-story

    How about trying to get some comment on those fiscal figures announced yesterday?

  • Comment number 54.

    Mike Naylor,

    you're blowing hot air into a burst bubble, old boy.

    All the best with that.

  • Comment number 55.

    24. At 4:01pm on 21 Jul 2009, heskethpark wrote:
    Parliamentary Select Committees cannot grill a kipper effectively, so of course Coulson got off. He read out his defence very well. And those who do have the evidence dirt on him are saving it up for when he is top aide to Tory Prime Minister Cameron when his scalp will be much more exulted and newsworthy.

    ===

    A bit defeatist of you, isn't it? Are you saying your Labour party wont win the election?

  • Comment number 56.

    #38

    "On another note, the one thing that has probably come to light is that Newspapers need thorough regulation and auditing."

    Why not just go the whole hog and introduce government censorship? Wouldn't that be more in line with New Labour thinking?

  • Comment number 57.

    Post 37 Mike Naylor writes of the difference between Cameron/Coulson and Brown/McBride:-

    "Brown sacked McBride,almost immediately. That's the entire political argument"

    Talk about missing the point. McBride was sacked for actions carried whilst employed by Brown and working from an office in No 10.

    On what basis would Cameron sack Coulson? For the actions of someone else, of which he had no knowledge, carried out in his previous place of employment?

    Presumably as a Labour supporter Mr Naylor is a strong supporter of employee's rights. How does he think an Employment Tribunal would deal with a claim for unfair dismissal from Mr Coulson on these grounds?

  • Comment number 58.

    #20 Mike_Naylor

    if you don't like the term "New Liebour" - then I'd suggest you start calling on our elected Government to start being truthful.

    Until then - suck it up!

  • Comment number 59.

    32. At 4:12pm on 21 Jul 2009, Mike_Naylor wrote:
    "Are you suggesting that (i) Coulson is guilty of knowing about the phone tapping, (ii) that Cameron knows this and (iii) that Cameron is taking pleasure oin knowing that Coulson has 'got away with it'? If you are, I don't suppose for a second that you have any evidence for it?

    What do you think Gordon Brown did when it was accepted that he knew nothing about McBride? If Cameron was smiling, Brown would have been convulseved with laughter"


    Cameron hired a disgraced ex NOTW editor, to be his spin doctor.

    A guy who specialised in leaks, and exposes for the best part of 15 years.

    Stop playing the prima donna.

    ===

    And Tony Blair hired a manic depressive, alcoholic pornographer to be his spin doctor. So your point is..?

  • Comment number 60.

    33. At 4:14pm on 21 Jul 2009, Mike_Naylor wrote:
    "As I remember it those 'e-mails to his mate' were the planning of a completely fabricated smear campaign on behalf of the Labour Party,Government and perhaps the PM.

    Good heavens ,talk about blinkered. "

    Which was in response to the notorious Tory "Guido Fawkes" web site, which ironically leaked hacked Damian McBride e-mails to the media in the first place.

    More hacking on Andy's watch

    Good heavens, talk about blinkered

    ===

    Mike, you must be blinkered if you think Guido is a Tory. I bet you've never read his blog.

  • Comment number 61.

    The Tory-Labour tit-for-tat nature of these responses is almost as depressing as Rupert Murdoch's terrifying and domineering media empire! I have no alliance with any particular party - I find it much better to make my own mind up first and see who agrees with me.

    Although no hard evidence of guilt seems to be forthcoming I don't see how anyone could be convinced by such repeated "I can't recall" statements - these committees never seem to achieve anything because those involved always seem to be able to give non-committal answers which neither confirm or deny guilt! This always leaves a deeply unsatisfying result as no firm truth is ever found.

    I am not a fan of any of the main parties, whoever gets in - things never really seem to change for the better. But I see papers like the NOTW as one of the most disturbing products in a time of poor journalism and the fact someone has jumped from such a cesspool of gossip and dirty news into politics is both unsurprising and a good indictment of the political world we live in.

  • Comment number 62.

    Hi "Nick" and whilst I am at it please say hello to your mate "Rob" I have never writen on these blogs before as I don't consider myself educated enough but I do read them all, boy oh boy don't I have a good laugh mainly at you and your mate and the comments made towards you being bias.

    The reason I am writing I am hoping someone on here will enlighten me as to how you and "Rob" still have a job with the BBC when you get so much flack. I am not asking you as I don't expect you to be there, you can't read all these comments about you surely and still come back for more, I bet your bum is off the seat before the last full stop

  • Comment number 63.

    I watched with interest the evidence from the current editor who said something like "and I hope this will mean we can leave this all behind us."

    My first reaction was "in your dreams, sonny"

    But then I thought about it. Lets face it, the media in this country is SO powerful (far more so than MPs who we elect) that they will get away with all this and carry on making it up and telling us what ever they fancy and get evidence however they want.

    And they will get away with it.

    When Orwell wrote about Big Brother, he got the right idea but the wrong candidate.

  • Comment number 64.

    36. At 4:20pm on 21 Jul 2009, Mike_Naylor wrote:
    If you notice, Coulson answered basically every difficult question, with Not in my recollection.

    Hes not saying yes or no. Hes basically saying he doesnt remember.

    So his defence is that no editor, manager, senior journalist had any idea that anything was going on. And if it later turns out that they did, he forgot about it.

    Forget Media Advisor. Coulson needs a cabinet/shadow cabinet job

    ===

    Yes, with a style like that, he would have fitted in nicely in "Jimmy" Brown's government of all the talents, maybe a promotion to Baron Coulson of Wapping?

  • Comment number 65.

    PS.

    Can anyone who wants be taken seriously, in political debate, stop using the term "New Liebores", and things akin to that.

    It's the political equivilant of a Man Utd fan and Liverpool fan having a discussion on who is actually the better team.

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

    You mean ZanuLiebour. No. Cos things can only get better.

  • Comment number 66.

    37. At 4:22pm on 21 Jul 2009, Mike_Naylor wrote:
    "A: A complete imbecile, that has no future in any future government
    B: He's covering his knowledge up.

    Seems like a fair desciption of Brown re the actions of Damien McBribe!"


    The only difference being Brown sacked McBride, almost immediately. That's the entire political argument.

    ===

    You've got your facts wrong there. McBride wasn't sacked, he resigned, spineless "Jimmy" Brown didn't have the guts to sack him.

  • Comment number 67.

    "Is Mike Naylor a Liebour No10 employee - is he biased???? - is he a product of the last 12 years??? - does he remember Mandelson, Robinson, Byers, Jowell, McBride, Martin, - have I got enough space - Iraq war - Bliar - David Kelly - still Mike u can keep paying MY share of tax for the next 20 years to ` celebrate` the Clown and Co having been in Govt.
    "

    The Irony being, someone calling Labour "liebore" is claiming I am too biased too comment.

    Mr. Reagan, your only contribution to these boards is posting rubbish about "liebore" "Election now!" "Mandleson"

    Every time you see a story on here.

    Tory HQ or Daily Mail hmmmmmmmm

  • Comment number 68.

    Well Nick, the many respondents to your blog a couple of weeks ago that said this was a none-story, have been proved right.

    Better luck next time!

    Now, how about some real political journalism about Gordon's abject failures? Or is that testing your loyalty too far?

  • Comment number 69.

    RobinJD wrote:

    Just how far are the Guardian and the BBC prepared to go to give airtime to innuendo for which there is no evidence?

    ###

    Oh, I suspect the evidence is out there. As Andrew Neil ranted, it beggers belief that phone hacking and other illegal activities take place and an editor knows nothing about it!

    The problem is being able to get the evidence, and in such a way that it is publishable. Both the BBC and possibly the Grauniad have higher standards for their publishing than the red tops (lets face it, anything is higher standard than sitting in the pub making a story up because have nothing that week)

    I would think the only way they could get the evidence is using the same illegal methods that they are complaining about.

  • Comment number 70.

    39. At 4:25pm on 21 Jul 2009, Mike_Naylor wrote:
    Another thing, in regards to Smeargate

    Weren't McBride's e-mails allegedly hacked, and leaked to the tory blogger?

    Wonder if Coulson had any recollection of that?

    ===

    Facts not a strong point with you, are they?

    His emails were not hacked, he copied somebody in on the emails that bore a grudge and wanted to bring him down a peg or two, no honour amongst the comrades, is there?

  • Comment number 71.

    "No bias there then. Nick, you are becoming more and more like a child who delights in annoying people by shouting "bum" in church because you know your parents lack the willpower to discipline you"

    Daily Mail reader

    It is not biased to abstain from attacking Mr. Brown, and demanding "election now!".

    Maybe start getting your news from "Young Tory Weekly" if you wish news like this to be whitewashed

  • Comment number 72.

    "Mike_Naylor wrote:
    "A: A complete imbecile, that has no future in any future government
    B: He's covering his knowledge up.

    Seems like a fair desciption of Brown re the actions of Damien McBribe!"


    The only difference being Brown sacked McBride, almost immediately. That's the entire political argument."

    I think the point that was being made went over your head, if you expect Coulson (who lets be honest was only the editor of a rag of a paper) to know what all the people in his team were doing then you must expect Gordon Brown to know exactly what McBride was doing (McBride was a close aide to Brown rather then a freelancer)

    Therefore by your very own logic Brown (and in your very own words) is:

    "A: A complete imbecile, that has no future in any future government
    B: He's covering his knowledge up."

    If you still don't understand ask one of the other people in Labour HQ, I am sure there is someone there who can explain it to you.

  • Comment number 73.

    "Coulson was "disgraced" in the sense of not having anything proved against him? As opposed, of course, to McBride. Saying that the political blog that broke the McBride story was tory is a bit like trying to defend a Belsen guard by saying the man who arrested him was a commie. McBride did what he did. No ifs, buts, doubts. There is no evidence linking Coulson to anything. Just accept it. Move on. "

    He "resigned", taking responsibility for the biggest tabloid scandal in about the last 50 years.

    If you honestly think a man actually resigning, and then claiming he had "no recollection of anything" is a valid excuse, then I wonder about your own impartiality.

  • Comment number 74.

    "WHO discussed that with him , WHO ordered it, no Clown, do not have any Parliamentary people investigating that- far too close to home.Roll on 2010 so Mr Naylor can post his solitary vote for ZanuLiebour and those who sent our troops on phoney wars to die for ZanuLiebour"

    Ron Reagan

    Damian McBride's e-mails were hacked and leaked.

    Who ordered that?

  • Comment number 75.

    "telecasterdave wrote:
    Nick, If you think Coulson is not telling the truth then why not accuse him outright. This would show that you are a journalist with true morals.
    By the way do you get all of your information "legally"."

    I very much doubt that Nick gets any of his information illegally, although I would suspect that at least some of his information is passed to him from friendly contacts in the Labour party (some of his articles look like he has printed them word for word!)

  • Comment number 76.


    1. Damian McBride was actually employed directly in number 10 while fabricating stories about Tory politicians, seemingly bringing the gutter politics into the heart of Government;
    2. So far as I know, David Cameron has never been employed by NOTW and is in no way connected to the phone tapping;
    3. There is no evidence that Coulson knew about the tapping and he resigned from his job when it came out;
    4. Those of us who are not aligned with a political party have watched in utter amazement at the spin machine over the last 12 years and the anger is a reflection of the sheer frustration at no-one holding labour to account for this.
    The deliberate attempt by a labour newspaper to conflate phone tapping with David Cameron's politics seems merely to continue the long line of spin, which most people I know are fed up with.


    In reply to:

    1: I dont see any difference in hiring a guy who disgraced himself in his job, and Cameron openly hiring a disgraced red top editor. Although Im sure you think he wanted him for his brilliant media mind, its more than likely because he wanted to fight Labour leaks and smears, with his own the tabloid attack dog. Either way, its bad judgement.

    2: I dont get your point. Brown was guilty by implication, apparently. He hired McBride, so is supposedly responsible for his past, present and future. The only criticism of Brown was that he knowingly hired a media, cretin, and I read for weeks Cameron bleating about how the hiring was demonstrative of a sleazy government. Surely the same applies here

    3: He resigned from his job when it came out, accepting full responsibility for the entire situation, as it happened on my watch. As for evidence of knowing about it seriously, I think anyone with any intelligence knows that an Editor in chief of a Newspaper will have some idea how it operates. Even Piers Morgan admitted that he knew that the NOTW and The Mirror operated in this way, when he was Editor. Luckily hes not been paid off to keep quiet, so we can get his wisdom on the subject.

    4: Your bias towards this situation is almost staggering. Have you not realised that the entire Cameron campaign since Coulson has been on board (where Cameron was miles behind in the ratings) has been based on leaks, smears, and the red top media.

    I agree, this is possibly in retaliation to McBride, but lets not forget how the McBride case came about his e-mails being hacked, leaked to a tory blogger, and then leaked to the mass media.

    Not only that, but former minister Tom Watson, was then accused, through sources that he was also akin to the e-mails. Even stating he was alledgedly ccd into the messages.

    You may believe these sources were anonymous whistle blowers. I call it a concerted sleaze exercise, to try and implicate an innocent MP, into a story running out of political steam.

    The entire story, was a planned attempt to try and link the actions of McBride, to Tom Watson, to Gordon Brown.

    And only stopped when Mr. Watson sued News International.

    I see no difference in either case. Other than the fact that McBride mucked up after being hired. And Cameron hired a guy, knowing something like this was probably going to happen/

    Bad judgement by both leaders.

    God help us all at the next election, whoever wins

  • Comment number 77.

    74. At 5:08pm on 21 Jul 2009, Mike_Naylor wrote:
    "WHO discussed that with him , WHO ordered it, no Clown, do not have any Parliamentary people investigating that- far too close to home.Roll on 2010 so Mr Naylor can post his solitary vote for ZanuLiebour and those who sent our troops on phoney wars to die for ZanuLiebour"

    Ron Reagan

    Damian McBride's e-mails were hacked and leaked.

    ===

    Says who? Has he complained to the police? These are serious allegations.

  • Comment number 78.

    If the editor of this news item, does not or cannot read the comments posted, the whole thing is a charade.
    If this equally applies to other editors whose pieces appear within the websites of the BBC., then the whole business is a nonsense.
    I would like some proof that the lack of interest by Nick Robinson is a fact and not just a subject to set pens whirling.
    Let me have some evidence, one way or the other so that I can make an informed decision. Am I being a trite old fashioned in requiring proof before conviction?

  • Comment number 79.

    Mike

    Still you are seeking some hopeless mileage about the alleged hacking of the McBride emails. Can I ask one simple question, cause I can't work it out. If McBride's emails were never meant to make it into the public domain, what was the point of them? Oh, hang on, got it now, it was only the author that was supposed to remain secret. The defamatory information as supposed to get out, not the author's name. I see now, what a terrible thing it was that the author of damaging and untrue allegations about Tory leaders and their families was unmasked. No wonder you're in a tiz.

    And I read The Times, actually. And I have no idea at all what your post #71 is trying to say. I have to leave the office now so won't be able to continue this hilarious conversation. I'd suggest though that the next time you engage in a battle of wits, you should remember to bring a weapon with you.

  • Comment number 80.

    What a total waste of money this Select Committee hearing was. At least we won't be seeing or hearing from Prescott for a while! The latest UK debt figures are far more concerning than the consequences of this attempted smear by The Guardian.

  • Comment number 81.

    Mike Naylor's interesting points on the situation:

    1: Tom Watson - was wrongly implicated by many news agencies, blogs and sources, as being part of the McBride scandal.

    Based on a false claim that he was cc'd into the e-mails. Watson, a former minister, and very close ally to Brown, was supposedly seen as the missing link, implicating Brown in it.

    Unfortunately, it was all made up, and Watson is now suing half of fleet street for damages.

    Anyway, he was obviously quite eager to be on the panel........And, NOTW surprisingly petitioned, for him to be removed, before it started....


    2: All these "no implications" whitewash merchants. I'm happy to inform you that Mr. Coulson was a few days ago, reported to the Conservative's own ethics committee, by a backbencher - the internal audit Mr. Cameron set up, to clean up the party.

    More than likely a disgruntled back bencher, who was peeved at being asked to stand down, while Boris, George, and the young set, were protected from all the expense malarky.

    One quote being, something along the lines of "Cameron wants to clean up politics. So it's only right that Coulson faces the internal inquiry he set up"

    Hmmmmmmmm. Evil, but brilliant.

    So in short, Coulson will almost certainly be facing the Tory sleaze busters as soon as the parliament panel are finished with him.

    Which puts Cameron in a pickle.

  • Comment number 82.

    # 74

    Damian McBride's e-mails were hacked and leaked.

    Who ordered that?

    **********8

    Mike, for the last time - NOBODY ordered it, because NOBODY hacked the emails.

    But don't let the facts get in the way of a good rant.

  • Comment number 83.

    "Once again, why do you think it matters how what McBride did came to the public's attention? The Yorkshire Ripper was caught because of a nosey policeman. Does that make him any less guilty? McBride did what he did. Accept it. Move on. "

    David Cameron, trying to insinuate that the government culture of leaks, smears, and spin, was something that needed to end?

  • Comment number 84.

    "He "resigned", taking responsibility for the biggest tabloid scandal in about the last 50 years" Mike_Naylor.

    Sorry Mike, missed that one. Are you mad? Biggest tabloid scandal for 50 years?

    Oh and when someone actually does something (i.e. resigns) you don't put it in quotation marks. And at least he did take responsibility. More than Brown ever could do.

  • Comment number 85.

    #73

    Mike, Coulson resigned once it was clear that the staff under him had acted as they did. Quote "As editor, I was ultimately responsible".

    That's what people with some integrity and conscience do. If only Brown had as much integrity.....

  • Comment number 86.

    "On what basis would Cameron sack Coulson? For the actions of someone else, of which he had no knowledge, carried out in his previous place of employment?"

    Cameron stated that the hiring of McBride showed the Gordon Brown was a terrible judge of character.

    And that the culture of "Spin doctors, leaks and smears" was a Labour tactic, that needed a tory government to cure.......

    I should inform you that Coulson has been reported to the tory partie's own ethics committee by a back bencher.

    The one Cameron ironically set up to clean up the party.........

  • Comment number 87.

    "You've got your facts wrong there. McBride wasn't sacked, he resigned, spineless "Jimmy" Brown didn't have the guts to sack him."

    So CAmeron hasn't discplined a single MP over the expenses scandal then? They all resigned.

    Isn't that a bit spineless?

  • Comment number 88.

    "Well Nick, the many respondents to your blog a couple of weeks ago that said this was a none-story, have been proved right.

    Better luck next time!

    Now, how about some real political journalism about Gordon's abject failures? Or is that testing your loyalty too far?

    "

    He writes this as Coulson is reported to the Tory partie's own sleaze commission, for investigation, after the all party inquiry is finished.

  • Comment number 89.

    Given how the hacking was done why is the committee not forcing the mobile operators to remove the loop hole that lets anyone access your messages from ANY phone when the call you and your your line is engaged.

    Its hardly rocket science and not "Hacking" its badly designed systems that are not fit for purpose.

    Simple solution to the so called hacking is for the committee to force mobile phone networs to only allow access to answer phone messages from the actual phone. Job done!

  • Comment number 90.

    "I very much doubt that Nick gets any of his information illegally, although I would suspect that at least some of his information is passed to him from friendly contacts in the Labour party (some of his articles look like he has printed them word for word!)"

    You should really get a job in Spin and sleaze yourself.

    Again, if you want all (negative) tory news to be whitewashed, maybe read the Daily Mail.

  • Comment number 91.

    Every Mark WE comment, is on Cameron stories, and largely equates to:

    "Don't listen to it. The BBC is biased".

    Blogger, or Tory HQ pawn, hitting Ctrl V 50x a day

  • Comment number 92.

    It looks like New Labour have looked under the sofa and found enough money to pay for Mike to spread his half-baked thoughts again.

  • Comment number 93.

    Come on Nick,

    The parliamentary committees hardly ever lay a glove on anyone dragged before them. No surprise.

    But I guess you didn't fancy reporting on the evisceration of the typically stuffed up Bill that Brown tried to force through Parliament to "clean up" politics.

    When he was permitted to make that rediculous, gurning YouTube broadcast he boasted that he'd shove laws through, before the summer hols, to really sort things out. (Despite, of course having already appointed someone to come up with a sensible framework.)

    What's happened? What always happens when MPs try and rush laws. They are badly written, have been chopped and changed a lot and there's very little left. A bit like the Christmas turkey after all the families have had seconds.

    I'd have thought that was a little more interesting than a spin doctor. Or even a mini-comment on the masses of bad news saved up and sneaked out just before bucket and spade time!

  • Comment number 94.

    "Says who? Has he complained to the police? These are serious allegations."

    McBride claimed the e-mails were hacked. And yes, I believe it is being investigated as I type this.

    How on earth do you think an e-mail between two Labour spin doctors ended up on a tory web site? They leaked the info themselves!?

  • Comment number 95.

    A small but important point, McBride RESIGNED, he wasn't sacked by GB.
    I still fail to see why this story is being given so much attention. Waste of time and a total waste of public funds!

    In case no one noticed, the general public doesn't give a monkeys about this.
    Soldiers are being killed in Afghanistan, the Country is bankrupt and Swine flu is infecting more people daily.

    There was an enquiry into this at the time. The Guardian and the BBC are just flogging a dead horse. Get a grip, get a life and move on.

  • Comment number 96.

    Tough one this.
    We all jumped on the bandwagon over the Telegraphs exposee of MP's expenses. This information was not gained through legal channels yet was of public interest, so I suppose that makes it ok then.
    Another newspaper uses illegal methods to expose soapstars, celebrities, sportstars etc. I suppose that can be questioned as to whether it was in the public interest or not?
    However the simple answer is do not buy these newspapers and the dubious reporting methods will go away.

    As for it being a political story......fraid not.

    Anyone else want to discuss the level of public borrowing, now there's a political story which needs discussing!!!

  • Comment number 97.

    Mike Naylor wrote:

    "Damian McBride's e-mails were hacked and leaked."

    --------

    Really?
    You know this for a fact?
    Where is your evidence?

    Do you not think that someone else may just have received a copy, seen an opportunity to do McBride down (I did hear he had made an enemy or two) and forwarded it to Guido.

    This is an important allegation Mike, you should get the Police involved quickly. A thorough investigation of just exactly who was aware of the "red rag" plot within the No. 10 bunker should be conducted immediately. We need to get to the bottom of this, don't you agree?

  • Comment number 98.

    "Still you are seeking some hopeless mileage about the alleged hacking of the McBride emails. Can I ask one simple question, cause I can't work it out. If McBride's emails were never meant to make it into the public domain, what was the point of them? Oh, hang on, got it now, it was only the author that was supposed to remain secret. The defamatory information as supposed to get out, not the author's name. I see now, what a terrible thing it was that the author of damaging and untrue allegations about Tory leaders and their families was unmasked. No wonder you're in a tiz"

    The red rag was a politically backed blog, to take on the notorious "guido fawkes" web site, that had been leaking political slurs for years.

    I'm not arguing that they were intended, to possibly be leaked at some time. But the entire culture of leaking info to blogs, is prevalent across all parties.

    The only reason the e-mails got out, and appeared on the tory web site is the fact that they were alledgedly hacked.

  • Comment number 99.

    I think we all knew it was a non starter and another desperate attempt at smear by Labour.

    Matthew Kelly had the affrontery on that ghastly One Show to say he hoped the story would run and run and be as big as the "expenses" debacle.

    No way, Matthew, no way. Can see which party you are supporting.

  • Comment number 100.

    "Mike, for the last time - NOBODY ordered it, because NOBODY hacked the emails.

    But don't let the facts get in the way of a good rant."


    McBride claimed they were hacked and leaked. It's easily sourceable. What is your "nobody ordered it or hacked it" based on? Other than blind party allegiance?

    Kind of reminds me of "I have no recollection of hacks" by Coulson today.

    You should get a job in spin!

 

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