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 Article written by Michael Crick Michael Crick Political editor, Newsnight

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