Was Hague Conservatives' first link with Coulson?

 

Attention has focussed on Prime Minister David Cameron for appointing ex-News of the World editor Andy Coulson as his communications director, and Chancellor George Osborne for recommending him to Cameron.

That much is established. What has received very little attention so far is William Hague's links with Andy Coulson, which date back to 2003.

It was in December that year that Andy Coulson recruited William Hague as a columnist on News of the World, and proudly announced:

"William Hague was famed for his sharp, no-nonsense delivery at the dispatch box and we're sure that will now translate into his column. Being a Tory won't stop him targeting politicians of all parties."

A former senior News International colleague of Andy Coulson tells me that he and William Hague used to meet regularly to discuss his column and politics, often over lunch.

I am also told that William Hague got regular help in writing his column from one George Osborne, who had helped Mr Hague prepare for PMQs when he was leader.

It seems possible therefore that Hague introduced Coulson to Osborne, and then Osborne made the intro to Cameron.

According to the Register of Members' Interests, Andy Coulson paid William Hague in the region of £200,000 pounds a year for the column.

And Hague continued writing the column until 2005 when he returned to the front bench as shadow foreign secretary.

It means that all the triumvirate at the top of the Conservative Party - Cameron, Osborne and Hague - are embarrassed by the Coulson link.

Which may explain why we haven't heard much from George Osborne, and William Hague has only done his first major round of interviews on phone-hacking today.

 
Michael Crick, Political editor, Newsnight Article written by Michael Crick Michael Crick Political editor, Newsnight

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  • rate this
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    Comment number 12.

    10

    Why is there such a dearth of humour these days? I accept that life can be tough but we need to laugh be-times. Sometimes it helps to laugh at those in power as Gillray proved many times over.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 11.

    Michael perhaps you would know which other politicians besides William Hague have received payments for writing for Sunday and National Daily Newspapers?

    This does of course not necessarily represent a conflict of interest at the time the writing took place, but it may do at some future date.

    Has the innuendo gone too far beyond the boundary of reason? We shall see during the judicial enquiry.

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

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    Comment number 9.

    I weary of the "shock/horror" presentation at every contact with every politician in this story. Somewhere is criminality to be dealt with, but the other stuff is mostly rubbish. Politicians of all parties and at all levels live by their contacts and people in business seek to influence them on all sorts of things. It is the way things work. Where is the evidence to back up all this smearing?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 8.

    £200k pa
    How many doctors, nurses, firemen, policemen, solders,teachers etc would like to earn that kind of money for doing a far more important job than scribbling some biased rubbish in a news international paper.
    And they wonder why we don't trust any of them!

 

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