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Thursday 31 May 2012

Hunt The Coulson

While many thousands are watching Robert Jay giving Jeremy Hunt (the Culture secretary) the mother of all skewerings at the Leveson Inquiry, and finding themselves coming up a long way short in the sympathy department, over the border and beyond the end of the M74 the real action has been unfolding, and this could be terminally damaging for Young Dave and his jolly good pals.

That cop's going to arrest who? ME? Er, oh ...

Because Hunt can be shunted off – he will no doubt be given the option of discovering a shortage of “time spent with family” rather than being unceremoniously pushed – and Cameron thus kept out of the way, with another equally clueless Tory apparatchik dropped in as replacement. What cannot be undone is the past presence of Andy Coulson inside 10 Downing Street.

Coulson, nicked once again yesterday Early Doors and taken by road to Glasgow – Govan, not part of town where any of his senior Tory former pals are likely to fetch up any time soon – has now been charged with perjury, specifically during his evidence at the Tommy Sheridan trial. Sheridan had been worked over by the Screws, and won his action against the title, only to get done over again.

Coulson’s evidence was key to Sheridan losing that one. But, so what, he’s left Number 10 now, hasn’t he? Well, yes he has, but at the time he gave that evidence he was Young Dave’s chief spinner. With the Prime Minister’s full confidence, too, despite Cameron having been warned about the appointment before he made it, and for reasons some of which could not be made public at the time.

That was because of the pending case involving Jonathan Rees and the small matter of his business partner being murdered (Rees’ business, Southern Investigations, was also involved in assisting the Screws with surveillance which may have been prejudicial to the trial). Coulson had also been central to the Matt Driscoll case where the former Screws hack won a record unfair dismissal payout.

Add to all of that the recent revelation by Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger that the full story behind the Milly Dowler phone hacking affair is much, much worse that what is already known, and the impression is given that Cameron should never have gone near Coulson, whatever his undoubted talents in connecting the “two posh boys” in Downing Street to their subjects.

So why did Young Dave take him on, given he was warned and made aware of the back story? Was this part of the Quid Pro Quo around the Murdoch support for his party? And will there be yet more perjury arrests further down the road? Cameron can hang Hunt out to dry, but Coulson is an indelible part of the past that he cannot shake off, and cannot easily explain.

That’s why Leveson is the lesser of two evils for the Coalition right now.

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