Tag Archives: andy coulson

Chris Huhne: my two months in open prison were like “public hanging”

Chris Huhne with the police

A simply astonishing column from Chris Huhne in today’s Guardian, in which he uses the jailing of Andy Coulson as a proxy to whinge about his own encounter with the criminal justice system:

“The custodial sentences are ridiculous; they serve no public purpose. The conviction itself will be the most severe part of Coulson’s punishment.

“Coulson’s sentence tells us more about the vindictive nature of our justice system – and of public opinion – than it does about his crimes.

Apparently custodial sentences are akin to 19th Century public hangings:

“there is something in the British psyche that likes to see others suffer … Are we much different today to the 30,000 people who gathered in 1849 to witness the public hanging of a husband and wife at Horsemonger Lane prison, Southwark?

And if we were in any doubt as to who he’s really talking about:

“Prison is the new public execution, with the tabloids scrambling to take pictures of any imprisoned celebrity and to invent ludicrous stories about their humiliations inside (as I can testify from my own experience).

“Given the gravity of his crimes, and the suffering of innocents, custody must be right for Rolf Harris. But surely not for Coulson and many others on short sentences.

Perverting the course of justice carries a custodial sentence because the offence undermines the very foundation of the criminal justice system, something that is clearly lost on Huhne.  His failure to tell the truth also led to the public humiliation of his son, with emotionally raw text messages revealed as part of the prosecution case.

The former cabinet minister served just a quarter of his eight month sentence and was transferred from Wandsworth to an Layhill open prison after just one week.

Did Coulson’s developed vetting finally force him to resign?

Andy Coulson

With David Cameron falsely claiming at PMQs that the UK’s former top civil servant was asked at the Leveson Inquiry whether he had raised concerns about Andy Coulson, the Tories seem to be spinning a weak line — via James Forsyth in the Spectator — that this had been “addressed” in Gus O’Donnell’s written submission to the probe.

The reality is that Gus O’Donnell’s written evidence is less that helpful to Cameron’s position. An addendum to his evidence drafted by the Cabinet Office security officer reveals that every single one of Coulson’s predecessors since January 1996 had completed the enhanced security checks called developed vetting.

Gus O'Donnell Leveson Inquiry addendum on developed vetting

With a routine vetting taking around 95 days, this indicates only one of Coulson’s predecessors had delayed (by four months) applying for this clearance. According to Jeremy Heywood, Coulson’s developed vetting only started after six months in November 2010 after a terror scare at East Midlands Airport. This process would have been well under way by the time he resigned on 21 January 2011.

People have failed to pass their DV for not being 100% honest — and we know that Coulson signed a declaration of interests and failed to mention £40,000 of shares in News International.

Subjects of DV are asked detailed questions about their sex lives — and the hacking trial heard that Coulson had a six-year affair with Rebekah Brooks.

So here’s another question which wasn’t asked at Leveson:

Did the process of Andy Coulson’s direct vetting reveal new information — or concerns about his honesty — which were a factor in his resignation in January 2011?

Coulson Guilty … now the prime minister has a statement to make

With Andy Coulson convicted for phone hacking — and Rebekah Brooks acquitted — it looks like someone has a statement to make:

“I have an old-fashioned view about innocent until proven guilty, but if it turns out that I have been lied to, that would be the moment for a profound apology. In that event, I can tell you that I will not fall short.”

Surely such a “profound apology” comes in person and not via press release?

Murdoch journalists ‘were even hacking each other’, court told

Rupert Murdoch

Former News Of The World royal editor and convicted phone hacker Clive Goodman tells hacking trial of the rats-in-a-sack attitude to “industrial scale” phone hacking at the paper — they were even doing it to each other!

“It got to the level when [a senior journalist who cannot be named] was hacking the editor Andy Coulson’s phone.”

Goodman claims that, along with Sun editor Rebekah Brooks, David Cameron’s former director of communications was being hacked to find out what stories were coming up at Murdoch’s British tabloids.

Perhaps of more relevance to the outcome of the case, however, Goodman also told the court that he showed a transcript of a Prince Harry phone hack to Coulson:

The case continues.

Video: Andy Coulson hits himself in head with Frank Bruno mask

David Cameron’s former director of communications Andy Coulson appeared on the Christmas 1997 special edition of sports panel show They Think It’s All Over – and whacked himself in the head with a mask of boxer Frank Bruno.

The then showbiz hack was attempting to illustrate a Sun scoop which revealed the boxer had quit the Spice Girls movie after one of his sons was refused the band’s autographs.

This was six years before the paper was forced to apologise for the headline ‘Bonkers Bruno Locked Up’ — a splash which Rebekah Brooks admitted in court last month was one of her worst mistakes.

Defence official charged over NewsCorp ‘bribery’ did Afghan Visits

An MoD officialcharged alongside Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson as part of Operation Elvden, was involved with organising visits to Afghanistan for officials. Bettina Jordan Barber’s LinkedIn profile shows her to be an Afghanistan Visits Strategy Officer:

Operation Elveden is looking into allegations of inappropriate payments to police and public officials.

Jordan-Barber is alleged to have been paid £100,000 over a period of seven years.

Police detain Coulson over ‘perjury': what did he say under oath?

UPDATE: Two years later and Coulson has now been charged

With former News Of The World editor and Number 10 adviser Andy Coulson detained by Strathclyde Police for alleged perjury during the trial of Tommy Sheridan. Let’s take a look at what he told the court under oath.

On Glenn Mulcaire’s phone hacking:

“I never knew him as an individual, I never met him, I never spoke to him, I never heard his name until the Clive Goodman affair started. But I knew his consultancy was used in an entirely legitimate way during my time as editor.”

Asked about oversight “condoning” hacking in the newsroom:

“I don’t accept there was a culture of phone hacking at the NoW. There was a very unfortunate, to put it mildly, case involving Clive Goodman. No one was more sorry about it than me; that’s why I resigned.”

Quizzed on the testimony of former NOTW hack Sean Hoare, that Coulson told him to use the “dark arts”. Coulson said:

“I have absolutely no recollection of telling him that.”

On the hacking of Tommy Sheridan’s voicemail:

“I’m saying that I had absolutely no knowledge of it. I certainly didn’t instruct anyone to do anything at the time or anything else which was untoward.”

A perjury trial may well beget a perjury trial.

Hague defends Murdoch (after £400k+ column and publishing deals)

William Hague came out fighting for Rupert Murdoch after a report from MPs branded him “not a fit person” to run an international company. This is from the man who worked for the News of the World as one of their highest paid columnists, earning over £400,000 from it and his publishing deals.

Rowing back against efforts to pressure media regulators Ofcom over their “fit and proper” rule, Billy Fizz told Radio Five Live:

“They are great business people, let us be clear about that … people who run big businesses around the world are very capable people”

Hauge was brought to News Of The World by Andy Coulson in 2003. In his two years as a columnist Hague was paid an eye-watering £390,000 by the Murdoch red top — comprising four six-month contracts each worth almost £100,000. Hague is rumoured to have introduced Coulson to George Osborne, who fatefully brought him into Number 10.

Hague’s biographies of William Wilberforce and Pitt the Younger, written while he was on the backbenches, were published by Murdoch’s HarperCollins — boosting his income from NewsCorp companies to nearer £1m.

In backing NewsCorp, the foreign secretary follows in the tracks of fellow Murdoch columnist Michael Gove, who was one of Jeremy Hunt’s staunchest defenders after his bruising Commons statement last week. And while Louise Mensch’s books are published by Hachette, it is notable that her sister Tilly Bagshawe has transitioned from Hachette to Harper Collins.

We’re sure Mensch’s performances over the last year will not have debarred her from joining Murdoch’s stable of bestselling authors.

Read more: NOTW paid £20k to bury embarrassing photos »

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