Previously, I had wondered if events might conspire to make the Tory Party conference a little less dull. I did not have long to wait: Nick Davies of the Guardian, who has been ferreting away on Phonehackgate for some time now, has today brought news that the investigation is not only continuing, but that it’s getting very close indeed to Andy Coulson, former editor of the Screws and now Young Dave’s chief spinmeister.
Coulson has, until now, denied knowing that voicemail messages were being listened in to. But a former executive from the Screws, at present unnamed, has told otherwise: Coulson, he asserts, asked to either hear intercepted messages, or see transcripts of them.
That would be consistent with Coulson being a hands-on editor who wanted to make sure that he had sufficient evidence to stand up stories – and also that his paper was unlikely to end up in court as a result of publishing them. Moreover, the revelations are being made not just in the Guardian, but also in a Channel 4 Dispatches documentary tomorrow evening (2000 hours first broadcast, available afterwards on 4OD).
And there will be little use anyone in the Tory Party complaining about rotten lefties: the Dispatches programme is to be fronted by Peter Oborne, former political editor of the Spectator, a magazine not noted for socialist leanings. Oborne is of fiercely independent mind, and has previously been more than ready to go after anything he sees as corrupting politics and the political process.
The Dispatches programme, therefore, promises to be free of spin and direct in its analysis. This could be the tipping point in Phonehackgate.