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.
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?