Johnson and Coulson

Two big resignations this week – Alan Johnson and Andy Coulson. What will be the impact? The immediate one will be virtually nil. People watching the Westminister bubble tend to consistently over-estimate the impact of comparatively minor gaffes and scandals, the public’s awareness of the stories or even the existance of the people involved. The important impacts are the long term ones.

Taking Coulson first, it is unlikely to change people’s perception of the government, Cameron or the coalition. It fact, it really won’t have an impact on public opinion at all – most people making a fuss will be those with a negative opinion to start with. However, it does rob David Cameron of a close and valued advisor (and indeed, the figure in his inner circle with the least privileged, most “normal” background) – if there is an long term impact from Coulson’s resignation, this will be it.

Secondly there is Alan Johnson – here there are more obvious impacts on public opinion. The circumstances around Johnson’s resignation itself are not – it seems Johnson himself is blameless, and even if he weren’t, it would again be tomorrow’s chip paper with four years to go. Rather the question is what Labour have lost in the departure of Alan Johnson, and what the prospects are for Ed Balls.

Johnson had made some gaffes in recent days but these wouldn’t necessarily have been noticed by ordinary people. Johnson was seen comparatively positively by the public – in December 34% saw him as an asset for the Labour party and only 20% a liability, giving him a better rating than any other senior Labour figure. Despite being seen by political commentators as perhaps not up to the role, the public didn’t have him far behind George Osborne as best Chancellor (25% Osborne, 21% Johnson) – though that may be just as much about poor perceptions of Osborne. In short, Alan Johnson is a loss for Labour.

That brings us to Ed Balls. Here things are more balanced. The positives are quite clear – Ed Balls is a combatitive and capable politician with a solid economic background, who will no doubt do a very good job in attacking George Osborne and the government’s economic policy. The downsides are trickier – polls suggest Balls is not seen very positively. 28% of people see him as an asset for Labour, but 32% see him as a liability, significantly more than the man he replaces (though not the man he is going to shadow, who the same figures suggest is seen by the public as a comparatively weak link on the Tory front bench)

More significantly though will be the impact upon how Labour are seen and upon their future strategy. Balls is seen as extremely close to Gordon Brown, and as being opposed to the need for cuts (or at least, this is how the media currently see him and how the Conservatives will attempt to paint him)

On New Year’s Eve I wrote a round up piece on the challenges facing Labour – essentially looking at the underlying weaknesses that Miliband needed to take the opportunity of a poll lead to address. I won’t repeat too much of it here, but will just pick out a couple of poll findings I cited back then, taken from a poll in September 2010, which reflect the sort of image problems facing Labour. Back then 69% agreed that “Labour need to make major changes to their policies and beliefs to be fit for government again”, 60% agreed “Labour still haven’t faced up to the damage they did to the British economy”, 47% thought that “If Labour returned to government they would put the country into even more debt”.

We asked it again earlier this month to see if Ed Miliband had made any difference to negative perceptions of the Labour party yet. The answer is not much – 65% still think Labour need to make major changes to their policies (including 45% of Labour voters!), 58% still think Labour haven’t faced up to the damage they did to the economy, 47% still think they would put the country back into debt were they to return to government.

Labour have a good lead in the polls and my expectation is that it will get bigger in the coming months, Ed Miliband has the strategic choice of whether to gamble on the coalition remaining unpopular and just hammering away at the cuts and reaping the rewards of opposing them, or using the luxury of a poll lead to reposition Labour to a more opportune position should the economy improve and the cuts not be a disaster. Conservatives pleased with the appointment of Balls seem to be working on the assumption that the appointment of Ed Balls signifies Miliband is going down the first route, though we shall see.


184 Responses to “Johnson and Coulson”

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  1. Why does it seem to be de riguer to cast aspersions on EM’s leadership, given that Lab is 13% higher and the Tories 1% lower, than their GE percentages eight months ago?

    He may not be an FDR or a Gladstone, but he seems to be doing.OK – for now.

    As for Cameron/Coulson, whatever Coulson’s fate regarding hacking, je was a most effective spin doctor. This would be a very sensitive time for the tories to relinquish control of the news agenda, having already begun to lose a little support, and with the lion’s share of the deeper cuts still to come.

  2. @Colin

    “What are the historic precedents/ max reversal of a VI over the last three years of a Parliament ?”

    Good to see you gradually posting back on here again ;-)

    It is actually more interesting/ useful to look at the changes in the lead between incumbent and main opposition party.

    Headlines are:

    Average turnaround in the lead 1979-2010 towards incumbent 12 months out = +3%
    Average lead turnaround in the lead 1979-2010 regarding incumbent 36 months out = -0.4%

    So Conservatives need to be

    a) no more than 3.5% behind in May 2014
    b) no more than 0.5% behind in May 2012

    In order to- if the trends of 31 years hold- squeak a lead at the next general election.

    **It’s interesting to note that over the last eight parliaments (31 years) the opposition has only been in front in the polls 36 months out twice (1980 prior to the SDP split and 1994 after Black Wednesday and prior to the first Blair massive victory). Though 36 months before 1987 and 1992 Conservative and Labour were tied.

    **It’s also interesting to note that over the last eight parliaments (31 years) the opposition has only been in front in the polls 12 months out three times- 1987 and only the one pollster number there; 1997 and 2010- these two being ‘change’ elections). In all five of the other parliaments the government was already ahead 12 months out…..

    **It is even more (!) interesting to note the incumbent turnaround achieved by Brown in those last 12 months- or (to look at it another way) the failure of Dave over those 12 months. Second only to Thatcher versus Kinnock in 1987!

    Additionally Labours current polling performance (eight months after the election) is much better than the opposition average at this juncture in the election cycle.

    IMHO it is not looking good for you and your Conservative-led government @Colin…..at the moment.

    **The data **
    (using Ipsos Mori and UKPR archives)

    Incumbent lead 12 months out compared to subsequent GE (- denotes opposition lead)
    1979 lead average of polls 12 months out +1%; lead GE -7% = -8

    1983 lead average of polls 12 months out +20%; lead GE +16% =-4

    1987 lead average of polls 12 months out -4%; lead GE +11% = +15

    1992 lead average of polls 12 months out +3%; lead GE +8% = +5

    1997 lead average of polls 12 months out -19%; lead GE -13% = +6

    2001 lead average of polls 12 months out +11%; lead GE +9% = -2

    2005 lead average of polls 12 months out +4%; lead GE +3% = -1

    2010 lead average of polls 12 months out -18%; lead GE -7% = +11

    Average turnaround in the lead regarding incumbent from 12 months out to subsequent = +3%

    Incumbent lead 36 months out compared to subsequent GE (- denotes opposition lead)
    1979 lead average of polls 36 months out +6%; lead GE -7% = -13

    1983 lead average of polls 36 months out -2%; lead GE +16% = +18

    1987 lead average of polls 36 months out 0%; lead GE +11% = +11

    1992 lead average of polls 36 months out 0%; lead GE +8% = +8

    1997 lead average of polls 36 months out -18%; lead GE -13% = +5

    2001 lead average of polls 36 months out +24%; lead GE +9% = -15

    2005 lead average of polls 36 months out +10%; lead GE +3% = -7

    2010 lead average of polls 36 months out +3%; lead GE -7% = -10

    Average turnaround in the lead regarding incumbent from 36 months out to subsequent GE = -0.375%

  3. @Ann (in Wales) – He was a Financial Times journalist before going to work for Gordon… it doesn’t appear to have held him back.
    Maybe I’m just getting used to Ed M, but I’m thinking his vocal delivery seems to be improving.
    As with everyone though, the little foibles get more noticable with tiredness and stress.

  4. AW writes – However, it does rob David Cameron of a close and valued advisor (and indeed, the figure in his inner circle with the least privileged, most “normal” background) – if there is an long term impact from Coulson’s resignation, this will be it.

    This seems a remarkably generous conclusion.
    The resignation is clearly not going to be the end of this story and the longer it drags on the further potential it has to prove a drag on DC’s popularity.

    Sure the vast majority of the population aren’t going to know who Andy Coulson is. ( my other half – who ain’t thick – came in this evening and said “who’s he?” )

    However the vast majority do know many of the celebrities involved in bringing civil cases against NOW. If each time their case is heard people are reminded of DC’s “error of judgement” in appointing AC then it’s hard to see how this long, slow trickle of negative publicity will help him in the polls.

  5. @Alec – “Anthony… the facility that allows you to view all responses within a thread.”

    Seconded. The “show all” was a useful feature that seems to have disappeared with the revamp.

  6. @Woodsman,

    There’s quite a stretch between what Coulson may or may not have been involved in at the NotW (and whether or not it can be proven), and the impact on Cameron. This “poor judgement” thing will only fly if the media want it to. If it has an impact it will be because reporters keep saying it should, rather than the public saying “Hiring someone who hadn’t done anything wrong, but was subsequently thought to have done something wrong, but noone could prove it – how improper!”

  7. Sadly, the Coulson resignation really needs to be the start of the affair, not the end. The Met have been shockingly lax and obstructive in the investigation, and it is extremely hard to believe that James Murdoch has agreed to hundreds of thousands of pounds of payouts without at least asking questions about how far the scandal goes.

    Coulson’s defence insulted the intelligence of all those who saw it. The clips tonight of his testimony to the HoC select committee when he tried to claim he couldn’t remember anything about the NOTW Prince’s Harry & William splash when (as Editor) he placed verbatim quotes left by Harry on Williams answerphone on the front page was all you need to know about the case.

    As Editor, he would (at the lawyers insistence) know absolutely what he was printing was genuine and would stand up in court. That means he knew the source. It’s a royal story and to pretend he couldn’t remember it was laughable. It’s also worth noting that his entire defence was that he had ‘no recollection’ of phone hacking. It’s not a denial that you knew things happened at the time – you merely pretend you’ve forgotten about them and escape perjury charges.

    At some stage this affair will wash right up to James Murdoch’s door, and I dare say a few senior Met officers might be nervously worrying about their pensions.

  8. Neil A – This “poor judgement” thing will only fly if the media want it to.

    Sure. And one of the first jobs of the new communications director at no.10 will be to deflect as much from DC as possible.

    However plenty in the media do want the story to fly in terms of inflicting damage on News International and if no.10 have to deflect the story from connections to DC it will also be deflecting them from attention to other tasks. It can’t be welcome news as it stands and there is certainly potential for further unwelcome news directly as a result of DC’s commitment to AC.

  9. bring back latest comments

  10. Alec

    “a few senior Met officers might be nervously worrying about their pensions.”

    Or they might have been more worried by what certain journalists discovered by hacking their phones?

    Should someone ever be found to have perjured themselves in a perjury trial – would that be a first?

  11. @Neil A – “… subsequently thought to have done something wrong, but no one could prove it.”

    Noticable that Cameron today said Coulson was being punished twice for the same offence.

    There are five(?) panels of inquiry into the events at NoW under his watch, as well as the growing number of civil cases triggering further revelations.

    A three day conference between Brooks and NI execs, and now Rupe himself is coming to town.
    The “one rogue journalist” defence has failed… it will be interesting to see exactly where the fall-back position is drawn.

  12. Let’s be honest, the response from all parties to the Johnson and Coulson resignations has, in the main, been predictably and disappointingly formulaic and party political. Johnson resigns, and Tory Party and Lib Dem stooges and spin doctors, despatched to the airwaves by their respective Party spinmeisters, talk about “Miliband’s” lack of judgement for appointing a shadow chancellor who “wasn’t up to the job”. Coulson resigns and, what do you know, any Labour spokesperson within shouting distance of a microphone pops up questioning Cameron’s “judgement” in appointing him in the first place. Vacuous soundbites exchanged in the political echo chamber. Oh look, it’s Michael Fallon on Radio 4 again and, blow me down, he’s questioning Miliband’s “judgement” in appointing Balls. Wait a minute, isn’t that Ed Miliband, or was it Douglas Alexander, questioning Cameron’s judgement about Coulson? Right, now let’s hear from Nick Clegg about “the dreadful mess we inherited from Labour” before we luxuriate in “broken promises from people we can’t trust on the NHS” from Miliband or Byrne or Cooper or…well just about anyone else who’s swallowed the party political message for that day.

    Is it me, and maybe I’m just having a bad day, but is there anyone else out there who despairs at the daily microscopic search for narrow party political advantage, the empty, repetitive mantras, the meaningless sloganeering, the constant on-message party approved response/rebuttal cliches…..well I could, but won’t go on. Instead, rather forlornly, I crave genuineness, honesty and some intellectual substance in our political debate.

    My view of it all? I genuinely liked Alan Johnson and am sad to see him go from front line politics, but personal issues, as they often do in life, have forced him to step down from his career. There doesn’t really seem to be much else in the story and Ed Balls will be a more than adequate replacement. Coulson has predictably bitten the dust but both Cameron and the electorate will get over the disappearance of an unelected part apparatchik quite rapidly, I would think. Mountains are being made out of molehills, the polls won’t budge an inch and, in the real world, away from this piffle, the 65% of the population who are still even listening, wonder when some politician, any politician, might inspire, might illuminate, might uplift the spirits with thought, word and deed.

  13. Tim Montgomerie is now saying that he has sources telling him that Murdoch ordered Coulson to quit. Clearly News International are terrified that the truth would come out and with Coulson a target the risk was too great.

    It’s a fine democracy we have if media barons hire and fire the PMs press team.

  14. AW- How do I log in to this site and get some colours? ….. I know you said before but I can’t find the link. Maybe I am just being thick.

  15. @Crossbat11 – I can’t agree that the Coulson affair is piffle. It probably has been (so far) in polling terms, but everyone (regardless of party) should be deeply concerned over successive governments kow towing to extremely influencial media organisations.

    I blame Blair as much as Cameron, but the excuses given by all sides throughout the Coulson affair have been somewhere between comedy and sinister. The police have been seriously compromised (the man who first investigated the hacking affair now works for News International by the way) and the relationship between the Met and NI is the big story here. Cameron was just a rather stupid bystander to the main event.

    I suspect the affair will deepen and will turn into a full scandal in due course. So long as Hunt and the Tories continue to cossy up to NI they are placing themselves in the firing line.

  16. @Billybob, Alec, Woodsman,

    The bottom line is that, had a reliable witness made a statement to the police that Coulson was aware of the phone-tapping, or had a verifiable document emerged that showed that he was involved in it, he would have been either “Interviewed Under Caution” or arrested and interviewed.

    That may yet happen. But so far all I am hearing is people saying “I didn’t know anything about what was going on but the editor must have known what was going on”. That wouldn’t swing it in a criminal court, with the standard of proof that pertains there.

    Perhaps the police have made a bungle. Perhaps the CPS have been lily-livered. I think it’s more likely that noone so far has been prepared to actually commit themselves to demonstrating what Coulson did or didn’t know. That may be because in doing so they would incriminate themselves as well, but without that there will be no prosecution.

    People sometimes get away with for lack of evidence. Whether they’re police officers pushing people over at demonstrations, climate campaigners arrested as they assemble for a power station protest or politicians that throw punches at hecklers. “Beyond Reasonable Doubt” is there for a reason.

  17. Alec,
    I can confirm that rumour from another source, close to Gove.

  18. @Neil A – “I didn’t know anything about what was going on but the editor must have known what was going on.”

    Not quite what I am hearing, but I wouldn’t disagree with the general drift of your post.

  19. I may be being a bit harsh with this view, but regardless of what happens with Coulson isn’t Cameron’s judgement called into question anyway?

    If Coulson is guilty, well he’s publicly backed a man who used illegal methods to obtain information.

    If Coulson is innocent, again Cameron’s hired an editor who didn’t know what the reporters of his own newspaper were doing (or how they were obtaining the information he was printing); bringing into question his competence.

    That’s, at least, as I understand it.

  20. @Billy,

    I’d say it’s roughly on a par with Ed Milliband’s backing of Phil Woolas. Not pretty but hardly fatal.

  21. @ Neil A

    Sure, but if the story runs as long as Alec thinks it could then it could be a slow gnawing away thing. With Phil Woolas it was all over quite quickly politically – found out, expelled, by-election etc. The Coulson story (or has it become Coulsongate yet? ;)) if it runs for a while could slowly eat away at it.

    Course it could do nothing at all as well – so probably a middle ground.

  22. @Neil A – the evidence (notes in the margins of Mulcaire’s invoices to NOTW for example) indicates a large number of NOTW journalists and senior staff commissioned him to undertake illegal work. Coulson’s former number 2 has been named in court papers and has had to step down.

    All the while, Coulson and NOTW have claimed it was a single rogue journalist. Everyone has known for a very long time that this wasn’t true. It is clear that there was ample cause for suspicion, but the police failed to investigate. I’m sure if you are faced with a number of suspected burglaries, you wouldn’t sit back and wait for someone to come forward with a statement – you would go and do some investigating yourself.

    If the police really had no evidence, why are all the current civil cases using evidence of wrongdoing withheld by the Met that has had to forcibly dragged from them by court order?

  23. @Alec,

    Obviously if the police did have evidence of offences by Coulson and chose to interview him as a witness, not under caution, they would at the very least be in breach of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act.

    If I had a series of burglaries, I’d check the local CCTV, search for fingerprints and DNA at the scene, interview the neighbours etc. If Coulson wasn’t on the CCTV, his fingerprints and DNA weren’t at the scene and none of the neighbours had seen him committing the crimes then, well, I wouldn’t arrest him for burglary. Of course, you can commit a burglary and not get caught…

  24. Andrew Neil on NN saying other newspapers may have occasionally resorted to hacking, but the suggestion is that at NoW it was the default position… whatever story crossed the desk, the tactic was deployed.

    The names of thousands of people targeted could be released around Easter.

  25. Alec

    “I’m sure if you are faced with a number of suspected burglaries, you wouldn’t sit back and wait for someone to come forward with a statement – you would go and do some investigating yourself. ”

    Unless you knew the burglar had damaging information about you.

    It’s difficult to see why the police on both sides of the border are so earnest in pursuing the interests of the Murdoch press, and so remiss in investigating possible offences by them.

  26. Perhaps someone should make a FOI request for the police Crime Report?

  27. Cameron on Coulson

    “punished for the same offence twice”

    So what offence was he punished for the first time? – Collusion? Incompetence?

  28. Laxness presumably.

  29. From my knowledge of the law, admittedly limited, there are two burdens of proof:
    In a criminal court, someone’s guilt must be beyond reasonable doubt.
    In a civil court, a person’s liability is assessed on the balance of probabilities.
    While it may be impossible to prove Coulson was guilty of a criminal offence, on the balance of probabilities he must have a case to answer.

  30. “Punished twice for the same offence” takes on added meaning if indeed it was RM who sacked him again.

  31. “punished for the same offence twice”

    I don’t understand why people aren’t picking up DC on his repeated use of this expression. “It’s a shame” he says, continuing to make out AC is innocent of any wrongdoing. Well maybe he is innocent. But then why use the term “offence”. And nobody is punishing AC. He has chosen of his own volition to resign on two occasions. Or so we are asked to believe….

  32. I imagine editors of the N of W to be guilty of many things. But laxness? Surely he wouldnt have lasted in the job 5 minutes!

  33. @Valerie,

    Yup. And the types of evidence that are admissable in a civil court are wider too. Hearsay for example, is admissable.

    All I am pointing out is that the police either don’t have sufficient evidence to consider Coulson a suspect, or they do and they have both neglected their duties and breached the Police and Criminal Evidence Act. If it is the latter then the conspiracy theories can come into play. But it is harder to cover things up in police investigations than you might think. You’d have to secure the compliance of all sorts of junior officers and civilian staff who might not share your motivations and allegiances.

    I’ve never been a conspiracy theorist myself. C**k Up not Conspiracy is my mantra..

  34. I’m not personally saying his offence was laxness, but I suspect that is the context of Cameron’s statement. A senior manager who resigns after denying personal responsibility but admitting administrative responsibility is essentially admitting to laxness.

  35. As you can see from the comments on this thread, the Coulson thing has the capacity to smear Cameron badly. Remember how the Tories left office last time? Cash for questions, sleaze the how caboodle.

    I think you are reading it wrong if you think this is done and dusted. I wonder if Murdoch is going to give up Coulson to the law?

    The Met has some serious questions to answer. I can’t see how this can fail to reflect badly on nearly everybody who gets sucked in.

  36. Yeah, when I hear Cameron talking about Coulson being punished twice for the same offence, I cannot understand why the interviewer doesnt say “what offence?

  37. @NickP,

    I wouldn’t take the comments on this thread as representative… the colours give it away!

  38. Neil A

    “the police either don’t have sufficient evidence to consider Coulson a suspect, or they do and they have both neglected their duties and breached the Police and Criminal Evidence Act.”

    Their is a third possibility – that they might have suspected that there was sufficient evidence, but found reasons to avoid the (no doubt expensive) costs of such an investigation (such a convenient reason!)

    It may be that the Met has never had problems with corruption of any kind?

  39. Neil A

    Of course I’m biased. But the Lib Dems surely aren’t going to like the Murdoch/Met/Coulson collusion stuff. It doesn’t seem at all like conspiracy theory to me, just straightforward cover up and damage limitation.

    It’s going to be embarrassing for SOMEONE. And as a Labour tribalist I’ve got to wonder what Blair allowed to get Murdoch’s “backing.”

    I don’t want the BBC (or the NHS) sacrificed on the altar of the market. Personal opinion. The worship of Mammon is destroying all the parties, and possibly the western world.

  40. @Neil A

    You do seem to be getting a bit of a grilling as our resident copper!
    :-)

  41. P.S. On Ed Milliband…it’s possible it’s not policies he needs. He just needs to (at least seem to) stay out of the gutter.

  42. @ Crossbat11/Nick Hadley

    “Is it me, and maybe I’m just having a bad day, but is there anyone else out there who despairs at the daily microscopic search for narrow party political advantage, the empty, repetitive mantras, the meaningless sloganeering, the constant on-message party approved response/rebuttal cliches…..well I could, but won’t go on. Instead, rather forlornly, I crave genuineness, honesty and some intellectual substance in our political debate.”

    To answer your question, yeah kinda. I think that part of the fun of politics is the spinning, the slogans, the messaging. On the other hand, there is a point when it all goes too far and everyone is looking for some sort of edge they can find out of seemingly nothing at all.

    Jon Stewart had this great segment criticizing the media’s response to Obama’s Tucson Memorial speech last week. Media commentators criticized the speech or “show” as they often reffered to it because:
    -The person who opened the memorial service was Native American and gave a traditional Native American benediction.
    -Daniel Hernandez, the young intern who saved Gabby Giffords’ life, was seated in the front row but the three heroes (who were recognized btw) who tackled the gunman weren’t in the front row.
    -There weren’t cameras on those heroes.
    -The crowd cheered too much.
    -Obama gave the speech too soon.

    Stewart termed it “the reunion tour of personal politics, pettiness, and point scoring.”

    I will suggest though that I don’t see how Johnson’s resignation really has that great of an impact. What does a Shadow Cabinet Secretary actually do? What power does he actually have? Isn’t he basically just a spokesman for the party on that particular issue? It all seems kinda silly to me. In that vain, I would tell you not to despair too much because I doubt you’re alone in people seeing through the pettiness of political point scoring.

  43. NickP

    “And as a Labour tribalist I’ve got to wonder what Blair allowed to get Murdoch’s “backing.””

    I thought that was pretty obvious. Blair translated the Labour Party in Westminster into Tories (shafting the Labour voters was the easy part of the deal).

  44. Oldnat

    I’m afraid you are right. And my reading of it all is that is why Brown really resented him…and why the Blairites hated Brown and the redtops smeared Brown.

    He was old Labour and not a Murdoch man.

    Let’s hope to god that Ed isn’t a Murdoch man either.

  45. I always thought Alan Johnson was an odd choice for shadow chancellor – I couldn’t quite see him doing the real job. It’s just possible that Ed Balls could do it although you wonder if there could have been anyone else.

    Anthony – is there a colour for floating voters, such as myself, other than grey? I’m not sure I want to be grey (at least, not for a while).

  46. NickP

    Would that you were right – but Brown was just as much the architect of New Labour as Blair was.

    For the record – would you care to define “old Labour”?

  47. Oldnat

    I should have said more old-Labourish.

    For me, old Labour is that infamous clause whatever. I think utilities and rail and even the telephone lines should be publicly owned. That’s basically it.

    Old fashioned, I know. I’m not against private companies or competition. But utilities are really monopolies and need that state planning.

    Yeah, I’m a dinosaur. More of us than you think.

  48. @OldNat,

    The Met has certainly had corruption issues, as do most forces. They generally involve junior officers, sensitive intelligence, organised crime and hard cash. But this would be a very poor candidate for corruption. It was high-profile from the start, was supervised by very, very high-ranking officers and it would have taken a pretty mammoth effort to suppress real, hard evidence.

    Let’s create a fictional example. PC from search team finds letter in Mulcaire’s house from Coulson about hacking. PC hands this to exhibits officer who notes it in Premises Searched Record. Exhibits officer takes it back to the station and enters it into the database of exhibits. Sergeant creates an action to research said letter……

    Senior officer descends on investigation team and tells all four officers to ignore the letter. “It never existed”. He takes it away and burns it on the instructions of his Murdochian / Tory / Whatever paymasters. The four officers have to rewrite their statements, doctor the original notes and wipe it off the database.

    Really??

  49. @ Neil A

    “All I am pointing out is that the police either don’t have sufficient evidence to consider Coulson a suspect, or they do and they have both neglected their duties and breached the Police and Criminal Evidence Act. If it is the latter then the conspiracy theories can come into play. But it is harder to cover things up in police investigations than you might think. You’d have to secure the compliance of all sorts of junior officers and civilian staff who might not share your motivations and allegiances.”

    Question. Can’t you consider someone a suspect even if you have no evidence this suspect committed the crime? And can’t you consider someone a prime suspect but simply not have enough evidence to bring charges against them in court?

    “I’ve never been a conspiracy theorist myself. C**k Up not Conspiracy is my mantra.”

    That’s how I generally am too on most things.

  50. I think the Coulson resignation only becomes problematic for David Cameron if it turns out that Cameron was aware of what Coulson was doing and/or Cameron used Coulson’s phone tapping techniques in order to gain poilitical advantage from it.

    The Johnson affair doesn’t mean much because (1) he doesn’t have any actual power, (2) he’s not resigning for anything having to do with his own wrongdoing, and (3) who Ed Miliband picks to be his top spokesmen doesn’t concern the public that much.

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