Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Morgan Denies Hacking Happened When He Was Editing

Another Headache For Dave

The BBC is reporting that former Screws  deputy editor Neil Wallis was advising Andy Coulson just before the election. It’s interesting timing for the Tories to admit that Wallis was advising the soon to be Prime Minister’s adviser during the Panorama investigation into phone-hacking. No wonder Cameron is flying home…

UPDATE: CCHQ Statement:

“There have been some questions about whether the Conservative Party employed Neil Wallis. We have double checked our records and are able to confirm that neither Neil Wallis nor his company has ever been contracted by the Conservative Party, nor has the Conservative Party made payments to either of them.

It has been drawn to our attention that he may have provided Andy Coulson with some informal advice on a voluntary basis before the election. We are currently finding out the exact nature of any advice.

We can confirm that apart from Andy Coulson, neither David Cameron nor any senior member of the campaign team were aware of this until this week.”

Not sure that will quite be enough to put off some very awkward questions from Ed Miliband tomorrow.

+ UK Uncut Supporter Attacks Murdoch at Hearing +

Committee suspended. One person cuffed.

Breaking…

UPDATE: One man arrested for attacking Murdoch with paint/foam and gets a slap from Mrs Murdoch.

UPDATE: II:

Smoking Yates/Llewellyn Emails

Number 10 have released the emails between Scotland Yard and Cameron’s Chief of Staff. Llewellyn’s neck might just be saved by the fact that his “reply was discussed and agreed with the Permanent Secretary at No10″ but that could easily damn them both. There is a head-in-the-sand feel to the reply and particularly damning that neither want to put much into writing:

10 September 2010: John Yates to Ed Llewellyn:

Ed,
Hope all well.
I am coming over to see the PM at 12.30 today regarding [redacted: national security] matters. I am very happy to have a conversation in the margins around the other matters that have caught my attention this week if you thought it would be useful.

Best wishes,
John

10 September 2010: Ed Llewellyn to John Yates:

John -
Thanks – all well.

On the other matters that have caught your attention this week, assuming we are thinking of the same thing, I am sure you will understand that we will want to be able to be entirely clear, for your sake and ours, that we have not been in contact with you about this subject.

So I don’t think it would really be appropriate for the PM, or anyone else at No 10, to discuss this issue with you, and would be grateful if it were not raised please.

But the PM looks forward to seeing you, with Peter Ricketts and Jonathan Evans, purely on [redacted: national security] matters at 1230.

With best wishes,
Ed

In other words “we don’t want to know…”

UPDATE: Reading these again, the killer line has to be: “I am sure you will understand that we will want to be able to be entirely clear, for your sake and ours, that we have not been in contact with you about this subject”. Why would anyone put that in writing? Think they call it a paper trail…

Morgan Deflects From the Issue

Guido is looking forward to crystal clear tones when Morgan is hauled before Lord Justice Leveson.

+ + + Yates Names Ed Llewellyn + + +

In an email in September 2010, David Cameron’s Chief of Staff told Yates of the Yard that he would be “grateful” if the Prime Minister was not told about the Met’s relationship with Coulson’s former deputy, and phone hacking suspect, Neil Wallis. He is also alleged to have turned down a briefing on the phone-hacking situation from the police. Steve Hilton also claims he told Ed Llewellyn about the information passed on to him by the Guardian. Llewellyn claims that he did not pass this information on to his boss. Though it’s likely to be overshadowed by today’s other events, the pack smell blood, and it’s doesn’t look good for Dave’s £140,000 school chum and ultra-loyalist.

UPDATE: The Telegraph are keeping up the pressure.

The Hunt is On

The correct technical term for what’s currently going on in Number 10 is “a flap”. Sir Paul Stephenson claimed early in his evidence that a “senior Number 10 official” advised, or even asked, the Met not to reveal information about  former News of the World deputy editor turned spinner Neil Wallis, due to the fact it would embarrass the David Cameron and Andy Coulson. The hunt is on and Downing Street is being bombarded with calls. The hunger for a political scalp that Guido mentioned earlier has shot up. Sir Paul Stephenson suggested the committee asked Mr Yates who it was. We wait with baited breath…

Damian Collins’ Declaration of Interest

Make sure you listen out for a very important declaration of interest at this afternoon’s Culture Media and Sport Select Committee show trials. Surely Tory MP Damian Collins is going to point out that his wife, one Sarah Richardson, is an employee of Edelman PR – Murdoch and News International’s recently hired spinners…

The spinmeisters have form in this sort of thing, getting into trouble in 2007 when John Hutton was at the DWP. His wife, Heather Rogers – a director at Edelman, lobbied successfully for DWP contracts. Edelman are yet to get back to Guido with assurances that Ms. Richardson is not working on the account…

UPDATE: Edelman stress Ms Richardson is not on the account. The connection must still be declared.

About That “Little Local Difficulty”

It’s not just the left that are putting the squeeze on Cameron. Yesterday Guido noted the dearth of Tory MPs coming out to support the PM, and though Nick Boles was put on Newsnight, he didn’t exactly cover himself in glory by describing the government’s current problems as a “little local difficulty”, though he did give Harman as good as he got. This morning ConservativeHome launched a tirade against the Tory leadership, slamming their handling of the crisis:

“The Downing Street team isn’t hanging together to push the Prime Minister’s case.  And they don’t hang together, they’re in danger of hanging separately.”

The Telegraph’s leader this morning said Cameron “has not been frank with the public”. Though there is no love lost between the Cameroons and the paper, their allegation has not gone down well. It’s ironic that the PM  has had to cut short his trip to Nigeria, of all places, to come back and fight corruption allegations back home. Tories are openly questioning whether jetting off was the wisest move in the first place. It’s hard to find anyone enamoured at Craig Oliver’s attempts to put out the flames licking the No.10 door and suggestions are floating around that he is a little out of his depth in the current crisis. It is so bad that some of his former detractors are joking that they wish Andy Coulson was back. Oh wait…

Given the fact heads have rolled in the media and the police already, there is a growing hunger to see a political scalp. Cameron’s Chief of Staff Ed “I didn’t tell the boss” Llewellyn is looking increasingly vulnerable, but surely Steve Hilton’s reputation is forever tarnished if he didn’t see the need to tell Cameron directly what he had heard about Coulson. As he claims. Knowledge is power in politics, and thus it seems a little odd that these two were so muted…

Quote of the Day

Simon Carr sticks it to Baldwin:

“When the Tories look for a victim of Baldwin’s journalism they present us with Lord Ashcroft. They don’t see that sympathy for the suffering vulnerability of a billionaire is limited. More to the point is David Kelly – for Baldwin was the News International journalist used to get Kelly’s name out.

For all the awfulness of the Milly Dowler case, the poor child was beyond the reach of this world when the journalists paid for her phone to be hacked. Baldwin’s action as a communications agent for the government of the day started a chain of events which led directly to the death of Dr Kelly.”


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