Fox becomes latest Tory to stand by “the venom of Andy Coulson”

Senior Tories continue to stand by David Cameron's director of communications Andy Coulson, with shadow defence secretary Liam Fox the latest to support him.

Senior Conservatives continue to stand by David Cameron’s embattled director of communications Andy Coulson, with shadow defence secretary Liam Fox the latest to support him. On last night’s Question Time, he defended Coulson against charges of bullying while editor of the News of the World.

Referring to a succesful tribunal claim of unfair dismissal against the paper, Fox said:

“I think you’ll find that Andy Coulson was neither present at nor involved in that particular tribunal.”

However, as Mehdi Hasan at the New Statesman points out and Left Foot Forward further reveals, Fox appears to have got his facts wrong, with Coulson directly involved in the case in question. The details are that the News of the World was forced to pay sports reporter Matt Driscoll £800,000 for unfair dismissal and disability discrimination.

Driscoll blamed Coulson for houding him out, saying at the time:

“Andy Coulson was at the heart of all of this. He should look at himself and decide if his actions in the course of the way I was treated were correct. If I were him, I would find it very hard to look in the mirror. I was subjected to unprecedented bullying and he did nothing to stop it, if anything he accelerated it. I didn’t do anything wrong.

“I was in the top 30 sports writers in the country. I then came up against the venom of Andy Coulson, which I found very hard to take. It has taken an incredible amount of strength to take on the richest news group in the world and win. I don’t think anyone has ever done that before with the success that I have.”

The Guardian says that the December 2008 tribunal had earlier found that Driscoll had fallen victim to “a consistent pattern of bullying behaviour”. The tribunal added:

“The original source of the hostility towards the claimant [Driscoll] was Mr Coulson, the editor; although other senior managers either took their lead from Mr Coulson and continued with his motivation after Mr Coulson’s departure; or shared his views themselves.

“Mr Coulson did not attend the tribunal to explain why he wanted the claimant dismissed.”

Coulson came under fierce attack on Wednesday for his role in the News of the World phone-hacking scandal, with a parliamentary committee this week criticising the paper for buying the silence of former employees, resulting in there being not enough evidence to sanction him.

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