David Cameron lied to the House of Commons about Andy Coulson

by Atul Hatwal

The reviews for Andy Coulson’s performance at Leveson yesterday might have been glowing, but he did reveal one critical fact. A fact with no caveat or wriggle room.

It came during the passage of questioning on Coulson’s vetting. When asked by the lead counsel for the inquiry, Robert Jay QC, whether he had attended meetings of the National Security Council (NSC), Coulson was unusually clear.

“Yes” he said.

There was no “maybe”, “might have” or “I can’t recall.”

It’s important because attendance at full NSC discussions requires the highest level of clearance, developed vetting (DV) so that participants can view content classified as top secret or above. As has been well established, Andy Coulson did not have this clearance.

So what you might say. If Coulson attended a meeting without the right clearance then that’s not ideal, but hardly front page news.

What elevates this from being another example of shoddy internal government process to significance is the identity of the chair of the NSC: the Rt Hon David Cameron MP.

In this context, Cameron’s reported comments to the House of Commons on Wednesday 20th July 2011 take on a new salience. Responding to questions about Coulson’s security clearance, he stated,

“He was not able to see the most secret documents…It was all done in the proper way“.

Think about it for a moment.

David Cameron had spent over a year chairing the National Security Council, where he had led debate on the highest security issues facing the UK. And sitting around the table, looking right back at him, advising him, was Andy Coulson.

Not just once or twice, but on a regular basis as the NSC sifted top secret documents, and considered how to keep the country safe.

It is beyond credible for David Cameron to claim that he didn’t notice Andy Coulson at these meetings. For Coulson to be present, he, the prime minister, would have had to have invited him.

It is equally ridiculous to claim that somehow Coulson’s junior clearance would have been appropriate for occasional attendance at the meetings. Within the civil service and security apparatus, access to documents and meetings that are top secret or above is fanatically enforced.

The reality is that David Cameron had spent a year in these most sensitive meetings, with Andy Coulson present, at his explicit direction, before flatly denying anything of the sort to the House of Commons.

This is not simply a case of a government press man occasionally seeing some documents he wasn’t meant to, it’s about the prime minister deliberately misleading the House of Commons.

David Cameron has got a long way with his Blair-lite ‘I’m a straight kind of guy’ schtick. But as his government progresses, the manifold instances of his political calculation and mendacity are being increasingly exposed.

On this, as with so much related to hacking, it’s the collateral damage that is most lethal. Coulson’s security clearance is in itself a minor issue. The deception perpetrated by the prime minister is another matter altogether.

Atul Hatwal is associate editor at Uncut

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10 Responses to “David Cameron lied to the House of Commons about Andy Coulson”

  1. Nick says:

    Whilst you’re concentrating on the tittle tattle of Westmister, what about your lies over debts?

    Still sticking to the line that the government doesn’t owe anyone a pension, because pension debts are on the books?

  2. swatantra says:

    Good point, but not enough to hang him.
    The reality is that there was very little difference between hiring a spin doctor like Alaister Campbell and a creep like Andy Coulson, both with a career in jounalism and both exposed to ‘secret meetings’. Even that awful Spin Doctor of Thatchers must have been in the know about bits of the Falklands Agenda. Trouble is journalisrts are not diplomats and like to exagerate or embelish the truth; its a matter of habit especially Red Top jouralists. More interesting than the limp working class Tory sympathiser Coulson is todays red top witness Rebekah. Maybe she’ll be able to provide enough rope. I have a feeling that Dave is quite content with being a one term PM because he’s acieved one aim, and that is to make a peacetime coalition work; its a first for Britain.

  3. uglyfatbloke says:

    Politician Tells Lies! Surely not….The last PM that was not a pure-bred out-and-out liar by nature was probablyy Hume. What’s worse is we let them get away with it. As a community we do not pursue the bastards; once theyare out of office they carry on blythely making themselves even more rich than they managed to do when they were at No.10.
    The rest are no better. The tiny handful MPs who got jailed over expenses were the people that nobody else liked; they were not really any more guilty than plenty of others but the other 400+ thieves got let off. Brown, Cameron, Clegg, Beckett, Osborne, Cooper, Balls, Blears should all have been in court to prove thei innocence. Party tribalism makes us defend people who really are utterly indefensible.

  4. Anon E Mouse says:

    After the dodgy dossier this is nothing.

    Thousands dead in Iraq is hardly even comparable.

    If this is the best Labour activists can do then the party is finished….

  5. Henrik says:

    I have conducted a swift straw poll and no-one I asked (admittedly a reasonably unrepresentative sample of mainly MSc- and higher-qualified scientists and engineers) gave a toss about the Leveson enquire or any of the other amazing stuff which is exciting the political-and-media class so much.

    I wonder why it is that media folk and politicians – and those who are *very* interested in the doings of either grouping – are widely regarded as odd.

  6. Cameron wasn’t the only one playing fast and loose with the truth last July.

    Here is the BBC’s contribution to the debate at the time:


  7. Les Abbey says:

    So often it’s not the crime that’s someone’s undoing, it’s the cover-up. This scandal has a few cover-ups running a the same time.

  8. Amber Star says:

    In due course, Labour will lodge a complaint about this. With the speaker &/or with the head of the civil service.

    Despite what Cameron supporters say, there is a huge difference between subsequent events disproving a person’s assertions (e.g. Blair – WOMD in Iraq) & saying something which the person must know is untrue at the time which it is said (e.g. Cameron regarding Coulson’s attendance at NSC meetings).

    The public may not care, at the moment. They will care, if DC is publicly censured for lying to parliament. When was the last time a PM was censured for lying to the HoC?

  9. Anon E Mouse says:

    Amber Star

    If PM’s were censured for lying to Parliament then Gordon Brown should be in jail for his “Boom and bust” drivel.

    Let’s get a bit of perspective here please.

    Human beings are dead because of a Labour spin doctor making up stories to go to war in Iraq to slavishly follow a Republican US president called George Bush.

    This is hardly the same and shows just how far out of touch Labour activists have become.


    A few celebrities had there voice mails listened to because they were too stupid to change the password from 0000. Big deal.

    No matter how Labour spin this or how it plays out the fact is as long as Ed Miliband leads the party it is doomed….

  10. swatantra says:

    One poll this Sunday actually puts Ed ahead of Dave: Ed is more popular than the PM, and more trustworthy! But its MidTerm Blues for the Tory led Coalition, and we can’t read too much into it
    The Public don’t give a toss about Leveson. Its like Jarndyce and Jarndyce, never ending. More and more witnesses being summoned, possibly all 3 exPMs and the current one. As you lift one stone, another ten are revealed. Robert Jay QC has been on his feet for hours on end sparing with James and that Pre Raphaelite beauty Rebekah. All to no end because the verdict will be inconclusive.

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