David Cameron’s ex-aide charged in hacking scandal

coulson-cameron.jpg
Former David Cameron aide Andy Coulson has been charged in the
News of the World phone hacking scandal

Scottish news: David Cameron’s ex-aide charged in hacking scandal

by Rosie Harrison

The Crown Prosecution Service's Alison Levitt QC has announced that former News of the World editors Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson have been charged with conspiracy to intercept the communications of more than 600 people between Oct.3, 2000 and Aug 9, 2006.

One year in, Lord Justice Leveson is shifting focus from UK media in general to the particular instances of illegal phone hacking that led to the Leveson Inquiry. The charges are serious carrying a potential two years prison sentence. Regardless, the reputations of Mr Coulson and Ms Brooks are irredeemably damaged. The most disturbing allegations relate to the pair allegedly hacking the answerphone messages of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.

David Cameron faces embarrassment as the trial he instigated turns full circle. Andy Coulson enjoyed a four year stint as Mr Cameron’s communications director - a key role within his campaign to become Prime Minister.

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Text messages between Ms Brooks and Mr Cameron have revealed a thriving friendship. Mr Cameron faced the excruciating task of justifying messages from Ms Brooks to the Leveson Inquiry. Shortly after the Sun dropped Labour to support the Conservatives and the night before Mr Cameron gave a speech to the Conservatives in 2009, Ms Brooks texted: “I'm so rooting for you tomorrow not just as a proud friend but because professionally we are in this together.”

In another climate, such revelations implicating the PM by association could be fatal to any politician’s career. Currently however, commentators believe that voters are too preoccupied with the economy to consider changing their political loyalties.

Although the intimate detail in which Mr. Cameron’s press-grooming has been exposed is particularly amusing, no UK Prime Minister in the last twenty years has failed to pander to Murdoch’s needs.

It is unsurprising that Alex Salmond has also been accused of being too cosy with the Murdoch family. The Scottish government has confirmed five out of an alleged twenty-five meetings between Murdoch and Salmond have taken place since he became First Minister.

The SNP attributes the frequency of meetings to the 6,000 employment opportunities News Corp has in Scotland. Accusations that Salmond supported News Corp’s bid for BskyB in return for editorial support from The Sun in the run up to the Holyrood 2011 election look bad but have no substance.

Throughout the Leveson Inquiry, the extent that political campaigning relies on media relations has emerged in an unforgiving light. As the first heads begin to roll, the question is how many and whose heads will follow?

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published this page in News 2012-07-24 15:58:00 +0100