Wednesday News Review

New evidence points towards Coulson

Rupert MurdochJames Murdoch and their former editor Andy Coulson all face embarrassing new allegations of dishonesty and cover-up after the publication of an explosive letter written by the News of the World’s disgraced royal correspondent, Clive Goodman. In the letter, which was written four years ago but published only on Tuesday, Goodman claims that phone hacking was “widely discussed” at editorial meetings at the paper until Coulson himself banned further references to it; that Coulson offered to let him keep his job if he agreed not to implicate the paper in hacking when he came to court; and that his own hacking was carried out with “the full knowledge and support” of other senior journalists, whom he named. The claims are acutely troubling for the prime minister, David Cameron, who hired Coulson as his media adviser on the basis that he knew nothing about phone hacking. And they confront Rupert and James Murdoch with the humiliating prospect of being recalled to parliament to justify the evidence which they gave last month on the aftermath of Goodman’s allegations. In a separate letter, one of the Murdochs’ own law firms claim that parts of that evidence were variously “hard to credit”, “self-serving” and “inaccurate and misleading”. – the Guardian

The allegations that Andy Coulson ordered his executives at the News of the World to stop openly discussing phone hacking and that he promised Clive Goodman his job back as long as he did not drop any other staff in it when he pleaded guilty to hacking is yet another problem for David Cameron. Until yesterday, the only written evidence linking Mr Coulson directly to any criminality had been emails suggesting that he authorised payments to police officers for information. Those documents – while hugely damaging – could still allow Mr Coulson to claim that he did not know about hacking and Mr Cameron to claim that Mr Coulson had not lied to him. But now it is alleged by Mr Goodman that Mr Coulson not only knew about phone hacking but ordered its cover-up as well. This raises fresh questions about the assurances Mr Coulson gave to Mr Cameron when he was hired and increases the chance that the Prime Minister may eventually have to admit that he was wholly deceived by a man he chose to take into the heart of the Downing Street machine. – the Independent

Lib Dems say Tory riot rhetoric “bonkers”

Liberal Democrat politicians indicated on Tuesday that they have deep concerns over David Cameron‘s uncompromising post-riots law-and-order agenda, with the party’s home affairs spokeswoman in the Lords telling the Guardian there should be “zero tolerance with zero tolerance”. Lady Hamwee, who led the Lords revolt against Tory plans for electedpolice commissioners earlier this year, said the pledge by the prime minister of zero tolerance on criminality was taking matters too far. Her comment suggests Cameron will meet stiff resistance when parliament returns in September. Lib Dem backbenchers went further when contacted by the Guardian and accused their coalition partners of short-termism and kneejerk reactions. David Ward, MP for Bradford East, described plans to withdraw offenders’ benefits as “nuts”, and Tessa Munt, the MP for Wells, said the plans were “bonkers, bonkers, bonkers”. She said: “Frankly, this all smacks of headline grabbing by Conservatives, not calm, rational policy-making.” The vice-chair of the party’s federal policy committee, Evan Harris, said he would table an amendment at the party conference asking members to vote to block Cameron’s contemplation of barring individuals suspected of causing social unrest from Twitter and Facebook. – the Guardian

More uncertainty as Germany and France defend the Euro

Germany and France looked to have failed again to calm feverish financial markets despite unveiling a raft of economic agreements at a summit in Paris. Traders reacted with exasperation as Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy repeated their “absolute will to defend the euro” and “shore up investor confidence” yet refused to back the shattered currency with eurobonds or a bigger bail-out fund. The failure to address the two measures left many traders ruing what they see as a lack of political leadership. Edward Meir from MF Global in New York said: “It doesn’t look like the two biggest items were seriously discussed — the potential for a eurobond and the size of the stabilization/bailout fund. At €450bn [the European Financial Stability Facility] could easily be wiped out if one of the larger countries gets into trouble.” Phil Flyn from PFG Best in Chicago said: “The market was holding out hope that we would be closer to a eurobond… What we’re moving towards is more uncertainty.” – the Telegraph

David loves Center Parcs

To some, Center Parcs offers a nightmare image of forced jollity at a water-themed prison camp. Now David Miliband has urged holidaymakers to cast off their snobbery, following a life-changing experience at the holiday village. While David Cameron enjoyed luxury in Tuscany and Mr Miliband’s brother Ed took a family trip to Devon, the former foreign secretary has hailed the delights of the Pont Royal Center Parcs resort in Provence. Writing a post entitled Holiday Harmony, Mr Miliband castigates sophisticates who scoffed at their destination. “The week in Provence got all the usual approval,” he wrote. “But when we said we were having a week at Center Parcs, we got a few raised eyebrows. One person said they had heard it described as an open prison.” – the Independent

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