News of the World phone hacking defence collapses

How long has David Cameron’s communications chief Andy Coulson got left in his job?

News Corporation has always said that the phone hacking scandal was the work of a rogue reporter (you know like the lone gunman..), but this defence is now fast unravelling as Glenn Mulcaire, the private detective at the centre of the case, reveals that the paper’s head of news commissioned him to access voicemail messages. So not exactly rogue then, but more institutional, planned and organised?

According to the Guardian Mulcaire has submitted a statement to the high court confirming that Ian Edmondson, the paper’s assistant editor (news) asked him to hack into voicemail messages left on a mobile phone belonging to Sky Andrew, a football agent. Andrew is suing the paper for breach of privacy. Oh dear.

If Edmondson was involved then it is incredibly unlikely that he would have acted without more senior knowledge suggesting that phone hacking a the News of the World was endemic and cultural.

It sounds like the kind of thing that once you start it is hard to stop (until you get caught) as it keeps giving all those juicy exclusives.

The Guardian says: “It is also understood that Mulcaire said in the court statement that several other executives at the News of the World were aware that phone hacking was taking place, although he does not name them.

A spokesman for the News of the World said: “This is a serious allegation that will form part of our internal investigation.” Edmondson was suspended by the paper before Christmas after he was named in court documents in a separate case against the News of the World brought by the actor Sienna Miller.”

You have to wonder how stupid News Corporation thinks the public are? As it continues to lie over what really went on?

The Independent is reporting that Nick Clegg has given his backing to an independent investigation into phone hacking at the News of the World while it was run by Coulson.

Clegg said it was “totally legitimate” for Keir Starmer, the Director of Public Prosecutions, to review evidence suggesting journalists working for Coulson illegally accessed voicemails of public figures.

The funny thing is that Clegg’s comments came only hours after Cameron gave public support to Coulson and called for him not to be punished twice for what had happened while he was editor of the paper.

But why? Why should he not be punished? It seems that Cameron is trying to save his own reputation as much as that of Coulson who few can really believe is innocent in this hacking affair.

Cameron says that the former tabloid editor was being ‘punished twice’ over the affair, which happened when he was running the newspaper.

He also told BBC Radio 4 that the Downing Street comms operation is more ‘transparent and decent’ than has previously been the case after he was challenged about the position of Coulson – and appeared to compare Coulson to the disgraced former Downing Street press chief Damian McBride.

Cameron said: “When you go back and look at who has done comms jobs in Downing Street and how they have been done, I have to say I haven’t received a single complaint about the way my press office and press communications have been done.

“I think they work in a very proper, transparent and decent way. That hasn’t always been the case in the past.”

However, the Mail reports that Cameron conceded that Coulson has been “embarrassed” by publicity surrounding the recent decision to review all the evidence by the Director of Public Prosecutions.

I’m sure embarrassed is just the right word. I’d be embarrassed if I saw the walls of my office closing in.

So I’ll ask again, how long has Coulson got left as this scandal continues to leak? Well if Labour MP Tom Watson is correct not very long.

Last week writing on the Labour Uncut blog he wrote a post (mainly about Cameron calling an election in May) but also saying Coulson will resign on January 25. Tick tock.