Thursday, July 7, 2011

Is Coulson About To Get Nicked?

It is one thing  for a hack to buy a drink for a copper, maybe even dinner, it has been standard journalistic practice for centuries to loosen the tongues of coppers. However when a hundred thousand pounds works its way into the hands of a small number” of officers, from one newspaper, there is a serious problem. In December last year Coulson was giving evidence in Tommy Sheridan’s trial for perjury. He was asked, on oath:

TS: Did the News of the World pay corrupt police officers?
AC: Not to my knowledge.

Yet in 2003 Coulson and Brooks admitted to paying coppers “within the law”:

He must be hoping his lawyers have a better grasp of illegality, as the Standard is reporting tonight that arrests are imminent, thanks to News International giving the police a paper trail leading right to his desk. Coulson could well be editing those rumoured “Days with Dave Diary” at Her Majesty’s pleasure…

Friday, January 21, 2011

Edmonson: “I’m No Grass”

Front Runners to Replace Coulson

Back in September (GPW Hotly Tipped for Post-Coulson Downing Street) Guido put a few names forward as potential successors to Andy Coulson. The same names are in the frame again. Former Indy deputy editor Ian Birrell seems to be Steve Hilton’s preferred choice, he is apparently liked and trusted by Cameron. George Pascoe Watson, the former Sun man now spinning at Portland, is mentioned, however  replacing one former Murdoch man with another could be problematic.

Ben Brogan, despite much speculation, insists he is not in the running.  Another name mentioned is Guto Harri, currently spinning for Boris, he is known to fancy going to Downing Street. The BBC’s James Landale shouldn’t be ruled out – he is an Old Etonian after all – don’t be surprised if you next see him in No. 10 rather than reporting from outside it. Modesty forbids Guido suggesting another combative tabloid-tuned, right-winger who likes taking the fight to Labour…

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Cameron Celebrated Christmas With Rebekah Brooks

Guardian hacks were very excited to have discovered – and were planning to splash on – the fact that the Prime Minister celebrated one evening this Christmas around at the home of the Chief Executive of News International. This is set against a background of the Guardian waging war on News International and Downing Street’s spin chief Andy Coulson over the News of the World’s phone hacking. There is also the slight matter of the government imminently taking a crucial decision about the Murdcoh takeover of BSkyB. Is it a shocking revelation? Dave and Sam have socialised with Rebekah and her husband “Champagne Charlie” Brooks before they were even at the couple’s wedding party. In the eyes of the Guardianistas this is yet more evidence of the unhealthy closeness of the Tories to News International. Never mind that Gordon Brown was also at that same party…

It is not the first time they have socialised, Sunday lunches at Chez Cameron are not unknown, because in truth they are near neighbours in Oxfordshire, the Camerons are in Witney and the Brooks’s are in Chipping Norton, some ten miles away. Wonder what shared concerns they could possibly have discussed?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

They Huffed and Puffed, Coulson Still Standing

With the news that the CPS won’t prosecute Andy Coulson, on the grounds of lack of admissable evidence, it looks like Coulson will stay in Downing Street as long as he wants, despite whatever the Guardian, New York Times, BBC and Labour will throw at him.

Coulson is as guilty as sin of condoning the News of the World culture, nevertheless it was pretty clear that unless documentary evidence was produced there would be no charges against Coulson. What has been a politically motivated attack by enemies of the Murdoch press was bound to fail without a smoking gun, however much they huffed and puffed.

It has played out pretty much as Guido predicted last year (see Coulson’s Guilt). Punters now give Coulson a 96% chance of surviving…

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Elementary Level Watson

It’s no surprise that Tom Watson has taken to opposition so well, surreally Guido even got to collect an award on behalf of the attack dog last week. However Watson’s out of the blue claim that Coulson is off imminently is nothing but traffic grabbing bluster. Of course Number 10 dismissed the claim as such almost instantly, but then it’s still another day that village gossip is once again full of chatter. Job offers have apparently come Coulson’s way…

Stories concerning the government and Dave in the last few weeks show Coulson hasn’t had his eye 100% on the ball, and that’s before the silent war in Downing Street is even considered. There may not be a smoking gun, but no doubt Hilton and his “zen men” are enjoying the constant drip drip drip. Expert punters don’t agree with Watson and it’s going to take more than a letter with an exaggerated claim to push Coulson over the edge…

Monday, November 22, 2010

Dave Says Phuket To Thai Break

Over the weekend the Prime Minister quietly cancelled his planned Christmas trip to Thailand. When the papers first got wind of the plan, Guido reported that Coulson had put the heavies on to try to stop the others asking the very obvious questions about the probity of such a trip given the, fellow Old Etonian, Thai PM’s less than exemplary human – rights record. You don’t see many fire extinguisher throwers surviving in Bangkok.

Other sources claim it was a lack of private beaches for security reasons, but with the number of vanity and money based stories floating around Dave in recent months Guido is surprised it took this long for Downing Street to have a re-think about where the PM should spend the upcoming “austerity Christmas”. Andy Coulson doesn’t seem to be burning on all four cylinders. Could there be some distraction taking up the time of the normally sharp headline seer?

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Birrell Bandwagon Rolls On

He is wounded, but without a smoking gun Coulson isn’t going to be forced anywhere. However let us just say a few months into the new year a job offer he can’t refuse might arise and off he goes. Whenever Coulson leaves, and in whatever way; be it disgraced, or off back to News Corp., British Petroleum or a spin merchants at board level there will be one hell of a power vacuum in Number 10. There is no way that the control-freakish Steve Hilton isn’t going to want to fill the post with one of his own. One of the Zen Men so to speak…

Since months before the election the name of Ian Birrell has been floating around CCHQ and wider Tory-circles.  Since they sing from the same hymn sheet it seems likely that Hilton wants the Big Society enthusiast and former deputy-editor of the Indy inside Downing Street. Other than being a mate of Dave and Steve’s what is it about Birrell that is so desirable? Even ConservativeHome today calls for Birrell and three other people to be added to the No.10 machine, despite the Tories promising to cut the number of political advisers. Is something afoot? Birrell’s big-society, blue-sky, Cameroon credentials are not entirely to ConservativeHome’s taste…

UPDATE : Well connected source texts speculating that he could replace Ed Llewellyn, Dave’s chief-of-staff. Hmmm…

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Sorting Out the BBC is a Job for Kelvin or Dacre

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is looking for an exceptional individual to lead a strong and independent BBC. Or so the advert goes for the new Chairman of the BBC Trust.

The broad post is responsible for strategy and standards across the vast, over-burdening leviathan, and with a radical choice of candidate the BBC could finally begin to overhaul the bias and waste that so damages the organisation. So who could be brought in shake things up?

Rumour and whispers say that Paul Dacre isn’t long for the Daily Mail editor’s hot-seat. Rothermere was in the front row of Cameron’s conference speech and Guido hears that eyebrows have been raised at the increased attacks on the paper’s reputation. As one of the BBC’s fiercest critics, why not let Dacre put his money where his mouth is, and instead of merely shouting from the sidelines, see if he can do any better?

Kelvin MacKenzie has a wealth of broadcast experience, setting up L!veTV and the hugely successful TalkSport. He is a polished performer in public and could bring some much needed private sector efficiency to the Beeb. If anyone can put a bit of stick about it would be Kelvin.

It doesn’t look like Andy Coulson is being forced out anywhere fast, but after a third bottle at lunch the other day a former spinner in-the-know let slip that it is likely he will bow out next year in an “offer he can’t refuse” situation. Common sense would have him returning to News Corp at an extremely senior level, but perhaps after juggling the entire government comms strategy, one last public service could tempt him…

Guido is sure any of these candidates would be welcomed with open arms by the Beeboids, better than their nightmare scenario of TV reviewer Gary Bushell at the helm at any rate…

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Coulson Cleared

Well not quite, but Channel 4 News have certainly put The Guardian in a tricky spot. The paper’s strategy is to drip out one former Screws hack every day to keep the story alive, but it seems that they are grasping at straws already:

“Paul McMullan told the Guardian newspaper this morning that David Cameron’s communications chief “would certainly be well aware that the practice was pretty widespread,” but Channel 4 News has learnt from the former features executive that he left the paper in 2001, two years before Mr Coulson became its chief.”

Investigatory journalism at its finest…

UPDATE : Latest betting prices from Political Smarkets – Will Andy Coulson leave? Yes 43% / No 70%.


Seen Elsewhere

Keynesian Tories Won’t Eliminate Deficit | Tim Montgomerie
Whitehall Doesn’t Work | Dom Cummings
Russell Brand’s Tax Avoidance Firm | Sun
1 in 7 Young Britons Back ISIS | Times
Apple’s Tim Cook: iGay | Techno Guido
Insurgent Parties Plunge Labour Into Crisis | Alex Wickham
Mind-Bending Politics of Drugs | Mark Wallace
PC Worries Prevent Police Protecting Young Girls | Jill Kirby
Miliband Should Win Rochester | Martin Kettle
Thatcher Minister Sir John Nott ‘Voted for UKIP’ | Times
Time to Listen to Drugs Experts | Guardian


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