For the umpteenth time, David Cameron failed to fully apologise for brining the poison of Andy Coulson into Downing Street, in a Commons debate on phone hacking.
For the umpteenth time, the prime minister failed to fully apologise for brining the poison of Andy Coulson into Downing Street, defending his former communications chief and refusing to answer all Ed Miliband’s questions – dismissing concerns about Coulson as “feeble conspiracy theories”.
He did, however, raise even more questions by claiming that “in hindsight” he would not have hired Coulson – despite all the evidence about Coulson’s past being out there at the time, and despite several of his inner circle knowing all the facts.
It’s not about “hindsight”; had he not stuck his fingers in his ears and failed to ask the right questions, he’d have known exactly the kind of character he was employing.
Mr Cameron had five chances to act on specific information that would surely have led him to change his mind on Coulson:
• The Guardian told his Chief of Staff Ed Llewellyn Coulson had hired a convicted criminal at the News of the World;
• In May 2010, his deputy Nick Clegg warned him about Coulson;
• The News York Times investigation was enough for the Metropolitan Police to reopen enquiries, resulting in Neil Wallis – Coulson’s deputy at the NotW – being fired by the Met;
• John Yates offered to brief the prime minister via Mr Llewellyn; and
• In October, Mr Llewellyn was approached by the Guardian with serious evidence about Coulson.
Every single opportunity was missed.
Questions were also raised about whether Mr Cameron had discussed the BSkyB bid in any of his vast array of meetings with News International executives, while several of his loyal backbenchers, on message and on cue, tried to deflect attention from the scandal by claiming there were other, more important issues going on.
It is this issue, however, which hangs heaviest over Mr Cameron, and if the odds are to be believed, it’s this issue that’ll bury him.
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