Friday, 9 September 2011

What does Downing Street know about Phonegate?

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The Culture, Media and Sport's hearings into Phonegate revealed witnesses whose words and body language were filled with lies and crass arrogance.
Colin Myler and Tom Crone
Watching Colin Myler (Former Editor of the News of the World) and Tom Crone (Former Legal Manager at News International) on 6th September in front of the Committee demonstrated the worst behaviour of people caught in a lie and still trying to talk their way out of appalling actions by their employer and other employees. Trying to wheedle out of admitting they had mislead the Committee and parliament previously, Crone was reduced to arguing over the definitions of 'secret' and 'confidential'.
In the same way we had the haughty responses by some MPs caught stealing through the expenses system, greedy 'casino' bankers playing with the British economy like it was their own private bank and some police officers happily taking bribes, we saw individuals who would not accept that their past views were inconsistent and misleading to parliament and an utter failure to recognise the seriousness of phone hacking. Myler, Crone and others simply don't get it. Adopting the Nuremberg policy of 'we were only following orders' is pathetic. Looking at their faces you could see that they were going to fight tooth and nail in opposing inch by inch, the Committee's pursuit of the truth. Frankly, they were not believable witnesses and their words cannot be trusted.
Tom Watson MP in pursuit of exposing one of the  biggest conspiracies in the past century
On the other hand it was a pleasure watching Tom Watson MP in action tearing a part bit by bit the obfuscation. Tom has proved to be a doughty, terrier in pursuing the phone hacking and subsequent cover ups. He exudes the very finest qualities of the the best British parliamentarians. He deserves a medal for his pursuit of the truth of phone hacking and his refusal to go away when the Police, Solicitors and powerful media barons were telling him and the world that a single rogue operator was responsible for the phone hacking. Tom had rightly identified that the facts didn't stack up and sniffed out the leads and evidence to help blow open the affair.
Andy Coulson refusing to reappear at select committee
Andy Coulson has refused to appear before parliamentary committee
At least Crone and Myler did show up in front of the Committee, which is more than can be said for Andy Coulson desperately fighting against appearing before the Committee. Questions remain as to what he told David Cameron. Did he hint or give any sort of impression that he thought the phone hacking extended past Goodman and Mulcaire? Did Coulson send emails or correspondence setting out what happened during his period as News of the World Editorship? Will any of the enquiries get to see those emails, notes or letters? Was a civil servant present in the discussions between Coulson and Cameron about phone hacking? If so, there would be a record made of that conversation. If there was no civil servant present, why did Cameron avoid the usual practice on such a sensitive, serious and criminal matter? What kind of Prime Minister avoids making a record? Those records could ultimately place David Cameron in a compromised position.
David Cameron and Andy Coulson
What exactly did Coulson tell Cameron? Were records kept of their conversations?
God speed the Committee and the police enquiries to put behind bars all those involved in this disgraceful conspiracy. I hope that Fleet Street will clean up its act and eradicate the illegal practices where they thought they could freely wade through people's private lives. However, seeing the attitude of Crone and Myler, the Government will need to take steps to enforce that cultural change. You can't trust these type of people to genuinely make the changes needed. 
In the mean time, we are left wondering what records exist in Downing street about how much David Cameron knew about the extent of the phone hacking.

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