Cameron deals with an earful from a certain backbencher:
“Yes Nadine., I should have listened to you. You are always right…”
Rupert Murdoch has changed his tune dramatically, apologising publicly and meeting the Dowler family. As Edelman PR go into overdrive with a series of full-page “We’re Sorry” adverts for News International, Downing Street are using the old-bury-bad-news-on-a-Friday-afternoon trick. It turns out Coulson, the man who links the Prime Minister to a guy with an axe in his head, was invited to lunch at Chequers in March, two months after his resignation, but before his old news editor Ian Edmondson was nicked. Yet another blinder from the PM.
Downing Street are releasing the full list of every meeting Cameron has had with media types since the election by the close of play today. As if the Sundays didn’t have enough to go on…
UPDATE: The full list of meetings is now out.
As a poll shows Cameron is taking a hammering over this crisis, the Downing Street fall-out from the arrest of Coulson is leaking out. Steve Hilton is blaming Ed Llewellyn, the PM’s chief of staff, for not passing on warnings to Cameron from the Guardian about Coulson. The most neuralgic issue is that there was one degree of separation between the PM and an axe-murderer. The Guardian told Steve Hilton, who in turn told Ed Llewellyn, that Andy Coulson had hired knowingly hired a criminal, Jonathan Rees, after he got released from a seven-year sentence for conspiracy to pervert the course of justice by planting cocaine on an innocent woman even though he was on remand for conspiracy in an axe murder. Rees had been charged with conspiracy to murder Daniel Morgan, a former business associate, who was found dead in a pub car park with an axe in his head. Nice.
Ed didn’t pass on the warning to Cameron. Hilton says he is at fault for not doing so. Ed counters that if Hilton thought it so important, why didn’t he tell Dave himself? The image of the PM employing people who employ people who associate with axe murderers is not a good one…
Mirror Group CEO Sly Bailey has written to advertisers telling them that “our brands are trusted and respected” providing a “viable and valuable route to this important Sunday market…” Might those words come back to haunt her soon?
Sunday Mirror editor Tina Weaver has been accused directly by Max Keiser of Russia Today of knowing about phone hacking. He makes a series of claims about Weaver’s knowledge of phone hacking including that in 2002 she was aware of Piers Morgan knowledge of the neat little trick. Let the circular firing squad begin…
With bigger fish being fried, lots of stories are going under the radar this week. On Tuesday John Healey was ordered by the Committee on Standards and Privileges to apologise to the House. Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary sent unsolicited party-political letters to LibDem councillors about the Health and Social Care Bill using pre-paid Commons envelopes. First Healey tried to deny that he did anything wrong, then claimed he had no idea he had broken the rules, but the committee have called him out and told him to write a written letter of apology to the Commons and repay the money. Not the biggest crime in the world, but worth noting the dubious lengths that Labour went to in order to throw a spanner into Lansley’s works.
Today is Twitter’s fifth birthday, and what would we do without it? Last night’s Ask Ed Miliband was another unmitigated PR success. We learnt that Ed likes cheese and onion crisps and is a virgin. But it’s not all fun and games online, especially if you work at the BBC.
Beeboids have had their Twitter wings clipped with vast rules and regulations on what they can and cannot tweet. The BBC Social Media Guide published today states:
“You are not discouraged from doing any of this, but as a BBC member of staff – and especially as someone who works in News – there are particular considerations to bear in mind. They can all be summarised as: ‘Don’t do anything stupid'”
That may prove tricky for some, but it doesn’t stop there:
“You shouldn’t state your political preferences or say anything that compromises your impartiality. Don’t sound off about things in an openly partisan way. Don’t be seduced by the informality of social media into bringing the BBC into disrepute. Don’t criticise your colleagues. Don’t reveal confidential BBC information. Don’t surreptitiously sanitise Wikipedia pages about the BBC.”
Guido was wondering why Nick and Laura weren’t playing yesterday.
It was looking tricky as soon as Murdoch’s real daughter turned on her this morning.
UPDATE: Brooks’ email to staff:
At News International we pride ourselves on setting the news agenda for the right reasons. Today we are leading the news for the wrong ones.
The reputation of the company we love so much, as well as the press freedoms we value so highly, are all at risk.
As Chief Executive of the company, I feel a deep sense of responsibility for the people we have hurt and I want to reiterate how sorry I am for what we now know to have taken place.
I have believed that the right and responsible action has been to lead us through the heat of the crisis. However my desire to remain on the bridge has made me a focal point of the debate.
This is now detracting attention from all our honest endeavours to fix the problems of the past.
Therefore I have given Rupert and James Murdoch my resignation. While it has been a subject of discussion, this time my resignation has been accepted.
Rupert’s wisdom, kindness and incisive advice has guided me throughout my career and James is an inspirational leader who has shown me great loyalty and friendship.
I would like to thank them both for their support.
I have worked here for 22 years and I know it to be part of the finest media company in the world.
News International is full of talented, professional and honourable people. I am proud to have been part of the team and lucky to know so many brilliant journalists and media executives.
I leave with the happiest of memories and an abundance of friends.
As you can imagine recent times have been tough. I now need to concentrate on correcting the distortions and rebutting the allegations about my record as a journalist, an editor and executive.
My resignation makes it possible for me to have the freedom and the time to give my full cooperation to all the current and future inquiries, the police investigations and the CMS appearance.
I am so grateful for all the messages of support. I have nothing but overwhelming respect for you and our millions of readers.
I wish every one of you all the best.
UPDATE II: Tom Mockridge the CEO of Sky Italia will replace her. Interesting decision to reassure the world that you won’t be selling your newspapers by putting a telly man in charge of them.
Guido understands that Nick Davies* had a breakfast meeting on Tuesday morning with Gordon Brown. That meeting was a two-way information exchange and the erroneous article – with David Leigh and Nick Davies bylines – was published the same morning. Brown’s speech in the Commons chamber on Wednesday came in the wake of the Guardian story. This combined Guardian / Brown line of attack has now completely unravelled, with the Sunday Times editor John Witherow rebutting the claim that it employed a criminal to blag for information about Brown’s flat purchase from Robert Maxwell’s estate in a dubious deal brokered by Geoffrey Robinson. Witherow is adamant that it was a legitimate investigation, in the public interest.
The Sun is unsurprisingly crowing about the apology, Rupert Murdoch himself has stuck the boot in an interview in the Wall Street Journal saying of Brown “He got it entirely wrong… the Browns were always friends of ours” until that is The Sun switched support to the Tories. Brown has handed Murdoch and Wapping a chance to fight back…
Murdoch is bullish about appearing before a committee of MPs next week, saying he wants to address “some of the things that have been said in Parliament, some of which are total lies.” Tom Watson has lost his bet that the Murdochs would chicken out of coming to the hearing. He won’t mind, his consolation prize is a chance to grill Rupert, James and Rebekah.
*A previous version transposed Nick Davies and David Leigh. You know how it is, these Guardian journalists all look the same to Guido. Corrected and apology on page 37.