Tag Archives: Andy Coulson

David Cameron has no answer to tax-dodging allegations

Time is running out for David Cameron - and on the strength of today's performance, it won't be a moment too soon.

Time is running out for David Cameron – and on the strength of today’s performance, it won’t be a moment too soon.

The circus that is Prime Minister’s Questions gave us some illuminating information today.

Ed Miliband kicked off his questioning strongly with the following facts: “An hour ago, we learned that linked to the HSBC tax avoidance scandal are seven Tory donors, including a former treasurer of the Tory party, who between them have given the party nearly £5 million. How can the Prime Minister explain the revolving door between Tory party HQ and the Swiss branch of HSBC?

Cameron didn’t have an answer, so relied on diversion instead: “I saw that list just before coming to Prime Minister’s questions. One of the people named is the Labour donor, Lord Paul, who funded Gordon Brown’s election campaign.”

Mr Miliband tried a different tack: “None of those people has given a penny [to the Labour Party] on my watch, and he [Cameron] is up to his neck in this. Let us take Stanley Fink, who gave £3 million to the Conservative party. The Prime Minister actually appointed him as treasurer of the party and gave him a peerage for good measure. Will he now explain what steps he is going to take about the tax avoidance activities of Lord Fink?

No, the Prime Minister wouldn’t. Instead he made a weak point that Tory donors don’t pick candidates or choose policies – which we know isn’t accurate. Tory donors pay for the chance to bend Cameron’s ear and influence his policies; that’s what the ‘Gagging Act’ was all about.

Miliband pulled him up on it: “He is a dodgy Prime Minister surrounded by dodgy donors. He did not just take the money; he appointed the man who was head of HSBC as a minister. It was in the public domain in September 2010 that HSBC was enabling tax avoidance on an industrial scale. Are we seriously expected to believe that when he made Stephen Green a minister four months later, he had no idea about these allegations?”

Cameron’s response was to point out that Labour has a history with Lord Green as well. The problem with this, of course, is that the facts about Lord Green were not known until May 2010, after Labour had left office.

Miliband’s last words on the subject: “The Prime Minister is bang to rights, just like his donors. And doesn’t this all sound familiar? The Prime Minister appoints someone to a senior job in government. There are public allegations but he does not ask the questions, he turns a blind eye. Isn’t this just the behaviour we saw with Andy Coulson?”

Bang on target.

Look at this exchange. We see a Prime Minister with something to hide. He has no answers to the questions and must resort to deflection and insult in the hope that nobody will notice.

It’s a forlorn hope.

And it doesn’t matter how much money the tax avoiders have given the Tories –

This man and his party are morally bankrupt.

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‘Plebgate’ – sometimes British justice DOES get it right

Not to be taken seriously: This version of Andrew Mitchell's court statement was presented satirically by Pride's Purge. The article is at http://tompride.wordpress.com/2014/11/27/exclusive-andrew-mitchells-previously-unreleased-court-statement-on-plebgate/

Not to be taken seriously: This version of Andrew Mitchell’s court statement was presented satirically by Pride’s Purge. The article is at http://tompride.wordpress.com/2014/11/27/exclusive-andrew-mitchells-previously-unreleased-court-statement-on-plebgate/

It doesn’t really matter what Mr Justice Mitting decided yesterday – the public made up its mind about Andrew Mitchell on the day ‘Plebgate’ happened, more than two years ago.

As Vox Political reported on the short temper and long decline of Mr Mitchell in 2012 (and how true those words about “long decline” turned out to be): There was little doubt from the start that he told PC Toby Rowlands to “learn your place” and called him a “pleb” – but he was only continuing a tradition of insulting the common citizenry of this nation that has been alive and well throughout this Parliament.

We had already heard about the book Britannia Unchained, by Priti Patel, Elizabeth Truss, Dominic Raab, Chris Skidmore, and Kwasi Kwarteng, who argued that British workers are “among the worst idlers in the world”, that the UK “rewards laziness” and “too many people in Britain prefer a lie-in to hard work”. And what about Philip Davies, the Tory MP who said the disabled should be “allowed” to work for half the minimum wage (long before Lord Freud’s recent, ill-chosen words)?

We all need to accept that Mr Mitchell’s remarks to the Downing Street policeman are representative of the way the majority of Conservatives see the British population, this blog argued – and those words ring as true today as they did then.

So it is a relief that Mr Justice Mitting threw out Mitchell’s libel case against The Sun newspaper (which had reported Mr Rowlands’ version of events), ruling that Mitchell probably did call police officers “plebs”, describing his behaviour as “childish” and saying he found Mitchell’s version of events inconsistent with CCTV footage of the row in Downing Street in 2012.

It is a further relief that Mitchell may face costs of £2 million – and, before anyone accuses this blog of vindictiveness, let us reflect on the fact that, on the day Andrew Mitchell finally resigned as Chief Whip after the incident in question, George Osborne was found fare-dodging on a train (he was sitting in First Class but had only a standard ticket). Mr Osborne received the equivalent of a slap on the wrist.

It seems Mitchell will be a rare example of a wrong-doing government MP getting the punishment he deserves.

There are other aspects to this story – police officers who gave false evidence in support of PC Rowland’s claim have been dismissed, and officers from the West Mercia force who claimed there was no case of misconduct for them to answer are facing serious questions about their future.

But the Independent Police Complaints Commission, which said that the row should have led to disciplinary action for the officer involved, now owes an apology to that office, as PC Rowland has been vindicated by Mr Justice Mitting’s decision.

That being said, the words used by the judge were not entirely favourable. He said Mr Rowlands was “not the sort of man who would have had the wit, imagination or inclination to invent on the spur of the moment an account of what a senior politician had said to him in temper”.

Never mind, Toby – a win is a win.

And it is yet more bad news for beleaguered Prime Minister David Cameron, who supported Mitchell during the first month of the affair before reluctantly accepting his resignation.

This is yet another example of poor judgement displayed by our not-very-funny comedy prime minister, who also employed Andy Coulson – now a convicted criminal (although he has now been released from prison after serving only a quarter of his sentence for phone hacking crimes) – and George Osborne (whose performance in Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday raised serious concerns about whether he should be made to take a urine toxicology test).

Cameron is also having to backtrack on his claim that his government would get net immigration down into the tens of thousands, after it was revealed that it is now higher than when his Coalition came into office.

Oh, and a quick check just revealed that #CameronMustGo is still trending on Twitter.

How long do you think it’ll have to stay there before he takes the hint?



Cameron aide charged over child abuse images – at long last

A Rock in a hard place: Patrick Rock, formerly a senior civil servant and policy advisor, who now faces allegations that he possessed indecent images of child abuse.

A Rock in a hard place: Patrick Rock, formerly a senior civil servant and policy advisor, who now faces allegations that he possessed indecent images of child abuse.

Patrick Rock, a former aide of David Cameron and protege of Margaret Thatcher, has been charged with three counts of making an indecent photograph of a child, and with possession of 59 indecent images of childrenmore than four months after he was arrested on suspicion of child pornography offences.

Crown Prosecution Service lawyers assessed the images as Level C, meaning they showed sexual activity between adults and children.

This is the man who, as deputy head of 10 Downing Street’s policy unit, had been working on policies that are allegedly intended to make it harder to find images of child abuse on the Internet.

He was arrested on February 13, only hours after resigning his position with the government. Coincidence?

Nothing was mentioned in the press at the time, but days later the Daily Mail started stirring up historical allegations against Labour’s Harriet Harman, Jack Dromey and Patricia Hewitt. Coincidence?

It seems suspicions were raised in the Labour Party, because shadow minister Jon Ashworth asked, in the public interest:

  • When were 10 Downing Street and David Cameron first made aware that Mr Rock may have been involved in an offence?
  • How much time passed until Mr Rock was questioned about the matter and the police alerted?
  • What contact have officials had with Mr Rock since his resignation?
  • What was Mr Rock’s level of security clearance?

And, most importantly:

  • Why were details of Mr Rock’s resignation not made public immediately?

Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood stonewalled: “Our … actions were driven by the overriding importance of not jeopardising either [the National Crime Agency’s] investigation or the possibility of a prosecution.”

He said: “We judged it was inappropriate to make an announcement while the NCA investigations were continuing.”

David Cameron has declined to comment on the latest development, saying it is a matter for the courts.

He’s changed his tune, hasn’t he?

When Andy Coulson was still facing charges in the phone hacking trial, Cameron couldn’t wait to get on television and make a statement, and never mind whether it was in contempt of court.

All in all, it seems we are facing yet another cover-up bid by this “most open government ever”.

Let us not forget that this happened in the same week that Iain Duncan Smith lost his legal appeal to keep problems with Universal Credit veiled in secrecy.

The DWP had insisted publication of the papers, warning of the dangers likely to be caused by Universal Credit, would have a “chilling effect” on the DWP’s working – a standard defence (see Andrew Lansley’s successful bid to prevent publication of the risk register, detailing problems with his calamitous Health and Social Care Act) that was thrown out by Judge Wikeley in a trice.

The DWP then argued that the order to publish was perverse – that the tribunal responsible had reached a decision which no reasonable tribunal would have reached. Judge Wikeley found that the challenge “does not get near clearing this high hurdle”.

Finally – and most desperately – the DWP tried to argue that the tribunal had not given due weight to the expertise of a DWP witness. Judge Wikeley had to point out that, by law, he cannot substitute his own view of the facts for that taken by the original tribunal.

The DWP was then sent away to consider whether to lodge another appeal.

That’s at least three attempts to hide facts from the public in a single week (it is arguable that Cameron spoke up about Coulson in order to cause a mistrial and prevent him from being convicted of two charges; he cannot say he was unaware of what he was doing, because he has already been rebuked by another judge, earlier this year, for commenting on the trial of Nigella Lawson’s former assistants. In addition, wasn’t it suspicious that Coulson’s defence team immediately leapt up to call for a mistrial ruling, based on the “maelstrom of commentary” Cameron stirred up?) from – as previously mentioned, this “most open government ever”.

There may be more that haven’t become public knowledge.

Does David Cameron really think the public will put their trust in him, with a record like that?

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Coulson convicted – now Cameron has serious questions to answer

Beleaguered: A weary-looking David Cameron tried to defend his choice to employ convicted phone hacker Andy Coulson in a BBC interview.

Beleaguered: A weary-looking David Cameron tried to defend his choice to employ convicted phone hacker Andy Coulson in a BBC interview.

The conviction of former Downing Street press supremo Andy Coulson on charges of conspiracy to hack telephones should have serious consequences for David Cameron, the Prime Minister who brought him into the heart of the UK government after he committed these crimes.

Cameron has said he takes “full responsibility” for employing Coulson. He may regret those words in the future.

Interviewed by the BBC, he said: “I did so on the basis of undertakings I was given by him about phone hacking and those turn out not to be the case.” What undertakings? That he hadn’t taken part in any hacking or that he was very good at it and wouldn’t get caught?

For a Prime Minister in charge of a barely-legitimate Coalition government with an agenda to destroy Britain’s best loved institutions, such as the National Health Service and the Welfare State, the presence of a person who could infiltrate the telephone communications of others, providing information that could be used to stop them, would be a huge asset.

Pressed on what he asked Coulson and what assurances he was given, Cameron said: “We covered all this in the Leveson Inquiry.” This is not a rock-solid alibi as Cameron was found to have, let’s say, selective amnesia about certain issues. His relationship with the Murdoch press – of which Coulson is a former employee – was one of them, and it is appropriate that more questions should be asked – and answers demanded – about the level of influence exerted on the British government by the man Private Eye describes as the ‘Dirty Digger’.

At the Leveson Inquiry, Cameron could not say:

  • Whether or not George Osborne obtained assurances from Andy Coulson about phone hacking before hiring him for the Conservative Party.
  • Whether he spoke to Rebekah Brooks about Andy Coulson before his Downing Street appointment.
  • How many conversations he had with Mrs Brooks about Coulson.
  • Whether he raised the issue of phone hacking with Coulson in Westminster or over the phone while on holiday.
  • Where and how Coulson repeated his assurances about phone hacking.
  • What Nick Clegg said to him about Coulson.
  • Who else raised concerns about Coulson with him.
  • Whether or not any Tory MPs expressed concerns about Coulson.
  • Whether he discussed Coulson and phone hacking with Rupert Murdoch.
  • Whether he sought direct assurances on hacking from Andy Coulson when revelations appeared in the New York Times (isn’t that now a Murdoch paper?) on December 1, 2010.

“I gave someone a second chance and it turned out to be a bad decision,” Cameron said yesterday – but this won’t wash, according to the Labour Party’s deputy leader, Harriet Harman.

“He [Coulson] was not somebody who’d admitted what he’d done and was turning over a new leaf,” she said.

Labour leader Ed Miliband, interviewed (again) by the BBC, got straight to the point: “David Cameron brought a criminal into the heart of Downing Street… David Cameron must have had his suspicions about Andy Coulson, and yet he refused to act.

“This taints David Cameron’s government because we now know that he put his relationship with Rupert Murdoch ahead of doing the right thing… He owes this country an explanation.”

Coulson’s connection with the Murdoch press was also hugely useful to Cameron at the time. Did he hope that the appointment would buy him favour with the 37 per cent of the British media owned by Murdoch? Was there a reciprocal arrangement, with the UK government showing extra favour to the Murdoch media – such as its plan to grant permission for Murdoch to buy the 61 per cent of BSkyB that he did not own (since aborted, partly due to bad publicity)?

As Roger Cohen wrote in the New York Times in July 2011, “It is hard to resist the impression that Cameron was completely in the thrall of Brooks, Murdoch and his son James Murdoch.”

What about the huge volume of emails – around 150 – between Cameron and Brooks that were withheld from the Leveson Inquiry and kept from the public domain, even after a Cabinet Office ruling in October 2012 that the public should see them?

Cameron was expected to face hard questions about his relationship with Coulson during Prime Minister’s Questions today (June 25). At the time of writing (11am), and based on his comments in the BBC interview, it seems likely that all we will hear is more evasion.

Is this really the behaviour of a man who should be the British Prime Minister?

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Cameron: As influential on the world stage as a packet of wet wipes


It can’t be much fun for David Cameron. There he is, sitting in 10 Downing Street, counting down the days until the end of his Parliamentary term while the police file in and out to arrest his advisors.

(Don’t forget they nabbed Andy Coulson before Patrick Rock, folks!)

Now he can’t even big himself up with a self-congratulatory picture tweet without some upstart, infinitely-more-respected actor fellow sending him up instead.

Determined to boost his profile by claiming to be buddies with Barack (Obama), Cameron tweeted the following:

"I've been speaking to @BarackObama about the situation in Ukraine. We are united in condemnation of Russia's actions."

“I’ve been speaking to @BarackObama about the situation in Ukraine. We are united in condemnation of Russia’s actions.”

This is the response he got, first from comedian Rob Delaney:

"Hi guys, I'm on the line now too. Get me up to speed."

“Hi guys, I’m on the line now too. Get me up to speed.”

… and then from acting legend Sir Patrick Stewart:

"I'm now patched in as well. Sorry for the delay."

“I’m now patched in as well. Sorry for the delay.”

What can we surmise from this? That listening to David Cameron is akin to squeezing a tube of toothpaste into your ear? That Britain’s comedy Prime Minister is as effective a statesman as a packet of Wet Ones? What a sad day for him if this appears to be the case!

This appears to be the case.

What followed can only be described as a deluge:


"Ok, guys, thanks for holding. "

“Ok, guys, thanks for holding. “

"Hi David, where are you calling from?"

“Hi David, where are you calling from?”

Here’s one from ‘Bubba’ (@bobwiggin), highlighting the effectiveness of Cameron’s sanctions against foreign countries:


This is from Vox Political reader Ian Davies:


What did Mr Obama think of all this?

"David who?"

“David who?”

Sadly, there’s one image we’d all like to see, but it has yet to surface. Here’s how it might appear:

"Hello - Cam? You're a bleedin' liability, cobber. I'm off back to XXXX, where they KNOW how to stitch up an election!"

“Hello – Cam? You’re a bleedin’ liability, cobber. I’m off back to XXXX, where they KNOW how to stitch up an election!”

We live in hope.

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Bad apples?

Meet the new boss: Richard Caseby - no connection with any 'bad apples' at News UK or the DWP. Let's hope it stays that way.

Meet the new boss: Richard Caseby – no connection with any ‘bad apples’ at News UK or the government. Let’s hope it stays that way.

The highly confrontational former managing editor of both The Sunday Times and The Sun has been named as the new director of communications at the Department for Work and Pensions.

Richard Caseby takes over after former comms boss John Shield was hired by the BBC last September.

Gosh, what an incestuous world we live in! The BBC, now confirmed as little more than a mouthpiece for the Conservative Party in its political news content, hires the former press officer for the Tory-run DWP. The DWP then hires an executive from Rupert Murdoch’s News UK, previous home of – oh, yes – former Number 10 press supremo Andy Coulson, currently on trial for criminal offences allegedly committed while he was employed by the same firm!

Murdoch, the government, the BBC – these people like to stick together, and they like to put their people in positions of influence.

There is no evidence – to my knowledge – that could link Mr Caseby to any criminal behaviour at News UK. It is to be hoped that any ‘bad apples’ who worked there did not manage to spoil the whole bunch. It would be wrong to consider him guilty of any wrongdoing merely by association with his previous employer.

And we should not automatically consider him to have been elevated to this position – in which, as a government employee, he should be impartial and not partisan – because he may be ideologically aligned with the Conservatives.

That being said, I shall certainly be watching this character like a hawk.

It seems he has gained a reputation for being “outspoken” and “forthright” – Roy Greenslade in The Guardian recounts an occasion when a columnist for that paper had mistakenly reported that The Sun had doorstepped a Leveson Inquiry lawyer, writing that such activities were equal to “casually defecating on his lordship’s desk while doing a thumbs-up sign”.

In response, Mr Caseby sent a toilet roll to Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger along with a note saying: “I hear Marina Hyde’s turd landed on your desk.”

Of his new roll – sorry, role – at the DWP, Mr Caseby said: “Welfare reform and the introduction of Universal Credit represent the biggest transformation programme in the UK. It is fundamentally about changing culture and behaviour to make sure there is always an incentive to work.

“This is a huge and inspiring communications challenge and I’m delighted to be joining the DWP team to help in the task.”

Clearly he is already getting the hang of the lingo: “tranformation”, “changing culture and behaviour”, and “always an incentive to work” are all DWP catchphrases – probably because they don’t mean anything.

A “transformation” programme can turn a good system into the substance he mentioned in his Guardian note.

“Changing culture and behaviour” does not mean improving standards of living – in fact the evidence shows the exact opposite.

And the idea that DWP cuts mean there is “always an incentive to work” has been disproved to the point of ridicule. Iain Duncan Smith’s changes have hit low-paid workers more than anybody else and wages have been dropping continuously since the Secretary-in-a-State slithered into the job back in 2010.

Universal Credit has been the subject of so many expensive write-offs and relaunches that a campaign was launched earlier this week, called ‘Rip It Up And Start Again’, seeking an end to the fiasco.

This is the arena into which Mr Caseby has stepped.

He’d better tread carefully.

If he puts just one foot wrong, he might just get his head bitten off.

Evidence states Murdoch knew about bribery of officials – so why isn’t he in the dock?

Inscrutable: But does this impassive visage mask knowledge about corruption in newspaper journalism going back at least 40 years?

Inscrutable: But does this impassive visage mask knowledge about corruption in newspaper journalism going back at least 40 years?

Rupert Murdoch has known for decades that his newspaper reporters were bribing public officials, according to an audio recording reported on the Exaro News website.

It seems the media mogul made the comments in March, in a private meeting with a group of journalists from The Sun who had been arrested over allegations of illegal news-gathering – including payments to police and other public officials for information.

In the recording, a Sun journalist asks: “I’m pretty confident that the working practices that I’ve seen here are ones that I’ve inherited, rather than instigated. Would you recognise that all this pre-dates many of our involvement here?”

Murdoch replies: “We’re talking about payments for news tips from cops; that’s been going on a hundred years, absolutely. You didn’t instigate it.”

At another time, he says: “It was the culture of Fleet Street.”

The full story, and a transcript of the recording, are on the Exaro News site, but the revelation raises serious questions about the phone-tapping trial of Andy Coulson, Rebekah Brooks and others, which is currently taking place.

If Brooks and Coulson are on trial for allowing corrupt and illegal practices in their newspapers, why not Murdoch?

And what are the implications for David Cameron, the Prime Minister who may have allowed this kind of corruption into Downing Street?

The great Leveson whitewash

Lord Justice Leveson, delivering his speech.

Oh, all right – greywash.

Please note: This is an initial reaction to the Leveson report, based on Lord Justice Leveson’s speech today (November 29). The report itself is 2,000 pages long and may contain much more that is of interest to us. But that will have to wait for another day.

Lord Justice Leveson has come out with his report which, in effect, advocates as little change to current press regulation as he thought he could get away with.

Jeremy Hunt, the Murdochs, George Osborne and David Cameron can all sleep comfortably tonight, in the knowledge that the skeletons in their closets have not been disturbed.

Leveson wants the press governed by a new self-regulatory body, underpinned by legislation, containing no serving editors or politicians.

But he says incidents in which the press have corrupted politicians or police are exceptions to the rule, and that the norm is a “robust” (he said that word a lot) relationship.

He said: “The lawbreaking in this area is typically hidden, with the victims unaware of what has happened… I haven’t seen any evidence to suggest that corruption by the press is a widespread problem in relation to the police; however, I have identified issues to be addressed.”

On the relationship between press and politicians, he recommended steps to create greater transparency “so there is no risk of even the perception of bias”.

He said: “In a number of respects, the relationship between politicians and the press has been too close, conducted out of the public eye, between policymakers and those who stand to benefit.

“The power of the press to affect political fortunes may be used to affect policy. That undermines the belief in policy decisions being made genuinely in the public interest.”

I suppose you could say he did criticise the government with this line: “The press is entitled to lobby in its own interests, but it is the responsibility of the politicians to ensure their decisions are in the public interest. Their dealings with the press should be open and transparent and the public should have understanding of the process.”

That certainly hasn’t happened with regard to the relationships between David Cameron and either Andy Coulson or Rebekah Brooks, or the relationships of both Mr Cameron and George Osborne with the Murdochs, or indeed that of former culture secretary Jeremy Hunt with News Corporation/News International!

I don’t think his proposals will work. I think the transgressors will keep on doing what they have been doing, and the politicians will continue to pander to them because they influence the popular vote.

I would like to have seen Leveson criticise a situation that has seen powerful newspaper magnates worm their way into the retinues of ministers and even the Prime Minister; and especially welcome would be a request for an explanation, from the PM, of his over-close relationship with the former chief executive of News International, Rebekah Brooks, who is even now awaiting trial for alleged criminal acts.

I would also like to see Leveson demand disclosure of the emails and texts that Mr Cameron did not provide to the inquiry or otherwise make public. What does he have to hide? Also, since the Prime Minister should be above reproach, should we conclude that his continued opacity in this regard is an admission that he is culpable of something, and therefore should we not demand his removal from office?

Instead, Leveson seems to have drawn a line under what happened. It is future relationships that he wants to safeguard. For those involved in the phone hacking scandals and the relationship between the Murdoch organisation and the Conservative Party, this means there will always be doubt in the public mind. Mr Cameron has lost public trust over this.

I would like to have seen Leveson question the way newspaper reporters have managed to get inside information from police forces across the country, because this raises serious issues about the corruptibility of our boys in blue. It takes two people to hand over confidential information – the one who’s asking for it and the one who provides it.

Perhaps that will follow but I doubt it. Despite Lord Justice Leveson’s beliefs, it seems this affair has damaged public perception of the police – as a whole – as well.

Brooks and Coulson charged; Cameron remains at large

I asked this before, and I’m still asking now: What have they got to hide, and can it be any worse than what we’re all thinking?

Why is it that Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson have both been charged with crimes of corrupt payments to public officials, but their good friend David Cameron – perhaps the most public official in the UK – is able to evade investigation?

If his emails and text messages to Mrs Brooks were innocent, then why have they still not been made available to the public – as they should have been during the Leveson inquiry – and as promised after a Freedom of Information request elsewhere on the Internet?

Mrs Brooks and Mr Coulson are among five people facing charges that they made corrupt payments to police and public officials. She is a member of the ‘Chipping Norton set’ and a close friend of Mr Cameron, as we know from the fact that there is a wealth of email and text correspondence between them – all innocent, we are told – that we have been prevented from seeing. He is a former Downing Street communications chief who was previously editor of the News of the World, under Mrs Brooks.

Also facing charges are journalists Clive Goodman – former royal correspondent of the News of the World – and John Kay – formerly chief reporter at The Sun – and Ministry of Defence employee Bettina Jordan Barber.

Mr Coulson and Mr Goodman will be charged with two conspiracies, relating to the request and authorisation of alleged payments to public officials in exchange for information, including a royal phone directory known as the ‘Green Book’.

The two counts of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office involve one between 31 August 2002 and 31 January 2003 and another between 31 January and 3 June 2005.

Ms Barber, Mr Kay and Mrs Brooks face one count of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office between 1 January 2004 and 31 January 2012.

None of these charges suggest any wrong-doing by our comedy Prime Minister, I should stress.

But he is a long-term friend of Mrs Brooks and Mr Coulson, and his correspondence has been kept hidden for so long that I’m sure I’m not the only one smelling something rotten here.

The current line from the Conservative Party on this matter is that we all (and especially the Labour Party) need to “change the record”.

That’s a particularly weak defence, isn’t it?

It was made by Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude, while emphasising the government’s programme on transparency.

Labour’s Chris Bryant asked, if that was the case, when Mr Maude would publish the “large cache” of emails relating to Mr Coulson [and] Mrs Brooks, and that was his answer: “The honourable gentleman needs to change the record.”

He can’t “change the record”. His question relates to a vitally important matter: Is there any evidence to suggest the Prime Minister of the UK may be implicated in alleged criminal actions by his close friends?

The longer we have to wait for an answer, the more suspicious this affair seems.

Cameron and Brooks – the more we know, the less we like it

What have they got to hide, and can it be any worse than what we’re all thinking?

There’s a bad smell surrounding the correspondence between David Cameron and Rebekah Brooks, and it has nothing to do with the horse she let him ride.

The Observer is today reporting details of “intimate” texts sent between the current UK Prime Minister and the former head of Rupert Murdoch’s News International. One of them, from Brooks, states that she felt so emotional listening to his (2009) conference speech she “cried twice”, and that she “will love ‘working together’.”

Working together?

In what way, exactly?

There are too many loose ends here for anyone to feel comfortable. Everywhere you turn, one of them whips you in the face (like a riding crop, perhaps).

Let’s bear in mind all the embarrassment fomer Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt (Con) had over the plans for Mr Murdoch’s firm to take over Sky TV, granting it an unprecedented dominance over the UK mass media. Working together?

Let’s remember that Andy Coulson, a former News International employee and editor of the News of the World, became Mr Cameron’s Downing Street press officer for a time, until he was implicated in the phone hacking scandal and stood down. Working together?

Let’s also consider the way the right-wing press – of which News International and Sky News form an uncomfortably large cohort – has suppressed stories about the harmful effects of Mr Cameron’s policies, such as the deaths of 73 sick or disabled people every week (on average) who had their benefits cut after reassessment by the Department for Work and Pensions and its contractor, Atos. Working together?

Cameron has refused to allow publication of any more of these texts – and it is understood that around 150 may exist. The Observer states that it understands many of them would prove to be “a considerable embarrassment” to the government.

We don’t know what is in those texts, and we are being told that we never will. The only possible conclusion is that they contain information that is damaging to Mr Cameron, and therefore to his Conservative-led government. Because of the identities of the correspondents, we can also conclude only that this damage relates to them working together.

It’s obvious he’s got something to hide.

He’s not going to come clean about it either.

So he’s being dishonest to us, the British public.

It is not in our interest for him to behave like this.

What else has he been doing that is not in our interest?

I think we have a right to know.

After all, he didn’t win the 2010 election; he’s only in Downing Street because of a dodgy deal with the Liberal Democrats.