Another day, another revelation in the saga of the runaway train that is Phonehackgate, and this one completely unexpected: after apparently resigning as a matter of honour from the editor’s chair at the Screws, Andy Coulson continued to be paid by News International, a number of “severance payments” being made up to the end of 2007.
Aw, not Tom sodding Watson again!
Moreover, he retained his NI funded private health care for a whole three years after resigning. And he was gifted his company car. As he started work as Young Dave’s spinmeister in July 2007 at an annual salary of over £250,000, there would appear to be both significant monetary and loyalty overlap in play. According to the Beeb’s Robert Peston, Tory Party sources say they didn’t know of the payments.
There were also raised eyebrows among the ranks of those who served among the ranks of Rupe’s troops in days gone by: Andrew “Brillo Pad” Neil, long time editor of the Sunday Times, has told that he got precisely zero on resigning. Of course, Brillo is now no longer a fan of the Murdochs. So is there another cite in the house?
Well, yes there is: David Yelland, former editor of the Super Soaraway Currant Bun, has Tweeted more or less the same message, that resignation brought no additional rewards. Add to this the suspicion that the Commons Culture committee may have been misled by the twinkle toed yet domestically combative Rebekah Brooks recently, and the impression is given that something has been covered up.
Put directly, this is serious. But in one corner of the dunghill that is Grubstreet, the worker ants are unhappy with this line of investigation, and not the ones at NI, but rather those at the Maily Telegraph. Those who look in on Zelo Street will not be surprised: I noted recently that the Telegraph titles, and particularly the Sunday one, were full participants in the Dark Arts.
So what is the verdict at the Telegraph? “The hysteria over Andy Coulson is getting out of hand” protests David Hughes. Who he? Hughes is only the paper’s chief leader writer, a serious job and one entrusted to someone who knows the politics of the paper and its target readership, as well as the aspirations of executives and owners.
Which suggests that David and Frederick Barclay, aka The Fabulous Bingo Brothers, may be concerned that the contagion from Phonehackgate could move in their general direction, and they would rather it did not. Hughes’ attempt to tell anyone looking in to direct their gaze elsewhere is not a wise move.