Tuesday News Review

Coulson continued to be paid by NI

Andy Coulson, the former editor of the News of the World who has been arrested on suspicion of involvement in phone hacking and bribing the police, received several hundred thousand pounds from News International after starting work as the Conservative Party’s Director of Communications in July 2007. These payments were part of his severance package, under what is known as a “compromise agreement”. According to sources, Mr Coulson’s contractual leaving pay was given to him in instalments until the end of 2007 – which means he continued to be financially linked to News International for several months of his tenure as David Cameron’s main media adviser. The disclosure that Mr Coulson maintained a financial relationship with News International after moving into a sensitive role in the Tory Party will be controversial. According to a senior member of the government, Tory Party managers at the time say they were not aware Mr Coulson was receiving these payments from News International while employed by the Conservative Party. – the BBC

The Electoral Commission is to be urged to hold an investigation into whether Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper empire was covertly funding the Conservative Party while David Cameron was leader of the opposition. The call from the Labour MP Tom Watson, who has played the lead role in uncovering the telephone-hacking scandal at Rupert Murdoch’s former newspaper the News of the World, follows a BBC revelation about large payments to David Cameron’s former spin doctor, Andy Coulson. Mr Coulson resigned from the editorship of the News of the World early in 2007, after the newspaper’s royal correspondent Clive Goodman and the private detective Glen Mulcaire were jailed for phone hacking. – the Independent

David Cameron is facing fresh questions about his decision to hire Andy Coulson in 2007 after it was reported that his former communications director received several hundred thousand pounds from his former employer News International after he was hired by the Conservative party. The BBC’s Robert Peston said that Coulson received cash payments from the company until the end of 2007 after his resignation as editor of the News of the World in January of that year. Coulson resigned after Clive Goodman, the former royal editor at the paper, which was closed last month, was jailed for illegally intercepting voicemail messages. The title’s owner News International allegedly agreed to honour the remainder of Coulson’s two-year contract, and the money was paid in instalments. Coulson also continued to receive other benefits, including private health insurance and a company car, for several years. – the Guardian

Cameron returns from holiday as Libyan rebels take Tripoli

David Cameron will chair a meeting of the National Security Council on Libya (NSC-L) today after cutting short his holiday, Downing Street said. The Prime Minister returned to London from Cornwall last night as euphoric Libyan rebels swept into Tripoli. Scenes of jubilation broke out in the capital’s Green Square today as Colonel’s Muammar Gaddafi’s 40-year rule appeared to be crumbling. Gaddafi last night issued a fresh appeal on state television for Libyans to save the capital. In a series of audio messages, he called on his supporters to march in the streets of the capital and “purify it” from “the rats”. He was not shown in the messages. The near-collapse of the regime will come has a huge relief to Mr Cameron, who combined with French president Nicolas Sarkozy to launch international airstrikes to protect the rebels last March. – the Telegraph

This time David Cameron didn’t mind interrupting his holiday. Two weeks after cutting short his main summer break in Tuscany because of the riots, the Prime Minister broke another family holiday in Cornwall to handle Britain’s response to the dramatic endgame in Libya. After taking a high-stakes gamble by calling for international intervention six months ago, Mr Cameron could hardly be blamed for wanting a share of the limelight when Muammar Gaddafi’s regime finally crumbled. Yesterday Mr Cameron addressed TV crews outside Downing Street and was quick to speak by telephone to Mustafa Abdul Jalil, chairman of the Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC). But other leaders were also determined to grab the credit in what became a rather unseemly race. Nicolas Sarkozy, the French President, invited Mr Jalil for talks in Paris tomorrow. France plans to host next week a meeting of the “contact group” of nations trying to stabilise Libya since the anti-Gaddafi uprising began. – Independent

Cabinet at war over gang plans

The all-out war that David Cameron promised to wage on gangs after the August riots is threatening to turn into one between government departments. The Prime Minister appointed the Home Secretary Theresa May and the Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith as joint heads of the so-called “gangs committee”, which held its first meeting last week. But already it has run into problems because Mr Duncan Smith, who spent months in opposition working on problems of social exclusion, has long-term plans to set gang members back on the straight and narrow. He wants to introduce an anti-gangs strategy modelled on those tried out in Boston, Massachusetts, and in Strathclyde, both of which were highly praised by David Cameron. But his ambitious proposals are not popular with the police, who face drastic cuts to their budgets and object to the potential cost. – Independent

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