Pressure grows on Coulson and Cameron as police to interview ex ed over hacking
How long can Andy Coulson last now that it has been confirmed that he will be interviewed by the Metropolitan Police? The Met will talk to David Cameron’s director of communications as part of fresh inquiries into the phone hacking case surrounding the News of the World and News International.
On Monday Coulson said he was willing to talk to the police, but now events are moving swiftly and they are coming to him. While the story might be ignored by some parts of the media it is getting to the stage when they won’t be able to. So far it has largely been the remit of the left of centre press – The Daily Mirror, The Guardian and The Independent. Split along opposition and government lines.
Coulson will be interviewed by the Met “in the near future”, John Yates, the assistant commissioner, told MPs yesterday after the home affairs select Commons committee announced a fresh inquiry into the affair.
The inquiry follows the New York Times investigation that suggests Cameron’s director of comms knew all about the illegal activity. Many would assume that as an editor he would have known.
Assistant commissioner Yates will speak to Coulson after he has interviewed Sean Hoare. He is the former News of the World reporter who has come forward and said that he was asked by Coulson to hack into mobile phones.
Coulson has always denied this and is sitting tight as Cameron. Earlier this week in the House of Commons Theresa May, the home secretary, told parliament that it was not for the government to decide whether illegal phone tapping of private citizens by a national newspaper merits an inquiry — that was a job for the police.
May was responding to a question put by Labour MP Tom Watson. May repeated her line from Sunday when she said there are no grounds for a public inquiry. What she meant, of course, that there are no grounds for an inquiry that will implicate Coulson and possibly his boss Cameron.
For his part, Yates has not ruled out reopening the hacking case and said he would take the new inquiries “stage by stage”. The Met is under the spotlight with its reputation in this affair already sullied having been accused of originally withholding key evidence from the Crown Prosecutions Service and possibly muting its investigation. It was also accused of having too close a relationship with the News of the Screws.
For his part Cameron says he accepts Coulson’s denial, but if his director of comms is shown to have lied to the public and a select committee it is likely that Cameron knows the truth.
If Coulson does go it will be interesting to watch Cameron give his statement on the affair.