Muesli-gate

Further to Guido’s speculation earlier about whether Steve Hilton had passed information about Coulson, given to him by Alan Rusbridger, on to Cameron. Downing Street have confirmed this afternoon that Rusbridger discussed the hacking scandal “in general” at a breakfast with Hilton on 12th November 2009, and deputy editor and Mr Mumsnet Ian Katz called him on 25th February last year regarding an imminent story going to print.

This is hardly the specific warnings Rusbridger claims he gave, but it beggars-belief that Hilton would not mention it…

Ed's Glass House

For once Sally Bercow hits the nail on the head:

http://twitter.com/#!/SallyBercow/status/89316180682211328

While Tom Baldwin was overheard pacing around Parliament earlier shouting the line, presumably to a press office minion or one of his old friends at News International, “Cameron has been consistently behind the curve… from the presser this morning, all day” down a phone, his boss was taking to the air. However when Ed Miliband was interviewed on Sky, Adam Boulton didn’t just want to talk about Cameron’s judgement, but Ed’s too. Especially in light of Lord Ashcroft’s curveball this morning.

Despite it being public knowledge that Tom Baldwin stands accused of using  a private detective to raid the Tory party’s bank accounts for a story in 1999, Ed claims he checked and was “satisfied he was the right person to be hired by me” and called Boulton’s line of questioning “desperate stuff”. Clearly flustered he demanded that Ashcroft put up the evidence, which he has already done in a 368 page book – Dirty Politics Dirty Times. Baldwin hasn’t challenged the facts contained in that book. It’s not just the media raising eyebrows, John Prescott told the Daily Politics today he “was a bit concerned” about Baldwin. Lots of people were “a bit concerned” with Andy Coulson, and look what happened to him. 

Quote of the Day

Heffer reviews “Ed”:

“A biography of Ed Miliband has to try hard not to be the sort of thing one buys as a present for someone one avidly dislikes. This effort… does not try hard enough.”

Friday Caption Contest (Favourite Daughter Edition)

Speculation Over Sunday Sun Focuses on Wooding

David Wooding is currently the News of the World’s political chief and associate editor. He has been publicly loyal to the Murdoch regime post theEnd of the World and, just as importantly, loyal to Screws’ blemish free journalists. Wooding has the pedigree for a senior job on the seventh day Sun, he was after all until last year the Whitehall Editor at The Sun, prior to that he was the news editor of the Sunday People after a spell as the Sun’s education correspondent and a news reporter. He has also worked at the Daily Star, Daily Express and Daily Mail – so no lack of experience.  Seen as a straight bat, he is untainted and as such Guido reckons he is the frontrunner for the new paper.

UPDATE:

Silent Steve

It has been claimed that Alan Rusbridger briefed Steve Hilton about unpublishable evidence regarding Coulson and dodgy connections. This apparently took place before he made the transfer to Downing Street. Cameron denied being given any evidence personally and said that he will look into what his advisor knew. For a media keen not to let the Dave connection to this scandal go, what Hilton did, or did not, say is crucial. 

There was no love lost between Hilton and Coulson, especially in the latter days. Are we seriously expected to believe that Hilton, in course of his power struggle with Coulson, didn’t offer up the dirt to Cameron?

+ + + Andy Coulson Arrest Confirmed + + +

At 10:30 a 43 year old man was arrested on suspicion of corruption and conspiracy to intercept communication at a south London police station.

Dale & Co Opens for Business

Point your browser at IainDale.com to see 92 comment bloggers.

Very magazine-y.

Cameron Presser – "No Stone Left Unturned" "Would Have Accepted Brooks' Resignation"

  • This scandal about more than one paper and goes to the heart of our media, police and politics. He said police investigations can only go so far, so there will be a full judge-led inquiry into the last police investigation. Apparently “no stone will be left unturned”.
  • Second inquiry this summer led by  independent industry figures looking at the culture, practices and ethics of the British press. PCC “ineffective and lacking in rigour  – need a new system that is independent of the press.
  • “We’ve all been in this together” – parties and papers have been in bed and this is a wake up call. “it’s on my watch that the music has stopped”.
  • No apology for hiring Coulson, said no one seriously questioned his ability to do the job “but the second chance didn’t work out”. Said he would have accepted Brooks resignation…

On the ropes during questioning:

  • Said he “commissioned a company to do a basic background check.”
  • Clearly dodged specific questions on what he had asked Coulson.
  • Repeated over and over that “he gave Coulson a second chance.”
  • Still “friends” with Coulson but conceded he didn’t ask what else there was to come.
  • Brought prospect of James Murdoch being questioned by the police “the statement yesterday leads to all sorts of questions that need to be answered”
  • Dismissed Guardian suggestion that he was warned with any “actual information”

No apology, even when pushed hard.

Times: Coulson Arrested

Times reporting at half-past eight this morning that “Mr Coulson now understood to be at West End Central police station.” A long way to fall…

UDPATE: The Times is backtracking and saying he’s about to be interviewed / arrested.  Journal of record, innit?

Miliband: Close Press Complaints Commission, Block BSkyB


Ed Miliband also called on the Prime Minister to apologise for bringing Coulson into Downing Street. He also called for Rebekah Brooks to resign. How ungrateful, it was a only a couple of weeks ago that he accepted her party invitation…

UPDATE: Cameron press conference 0930. Guido expects Dave to deal with the Coulson judgement issue head on. If he doesn’t, Dave will be making a strategic mistake. Guido’s guess is that he’ll say that Coulson lied to him.

Oborne Flip Flops Again


Yesterday Peter Oborne in The Telegraph blasted Cameron for being in the sewer with Rebekah Brooks, Andy Coulson and James Murdoch. It was a terrific piece that Guido and everyone in the Westminster politico-media Village enjoyed immensely. Tim Montgomerie reminded us that it was just over a month ago that Oborne thought Cameron was on the verge of attaining “heroic status”.  Guido is second to none in admiration for Oborne, his books The Triumph of the Political Class and The Rise of Political Lying are the most compelling analyses of the failings of the British political class and client media. If he has a failing it is that he is a man who hopes for better and expects better of our political class, it is this that leads him to lavish praise on politicians whom he has high hopes for, thus he lauded praise on Cameron and then when Cameron, inevitably, disappointed him he turned and lashed him. When it comes to this hope and disappointment cycle he has previous.

At the begining of the Brown premiership when David Miliband mulled over a coup he wrote an article explaining Why none of them are fit to fill Gordon Brown’s shoes, in which he argued thatThe Labour Party’s only hope is to rally behind the man it idolised for so long when he was Chancellor”. Within a year he was warning of Brown’sHubris, hoopla and claims that were false, cynical and very, very dangerous“, calling Gordon Brown a cynical, dishonest liar. Quite a volte face.

Oborne gets into this situation because he wants to think the best of men, Guido on the other hand starts with the view that politicians are probably lying or crooked, or at least venal. This policy towards politicians makes for fewer about turns.



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Quote of the Day

Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner:

“We have no plans to write off existing student debt.”

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