It’s been obvious for months that Andy Coulson, the former News of the World editor mired in that paper’s phone hacking scandal, would have to resign.
He’s clung on to the job for months, London SW1’s version of The Alamo or Custer’s Last Stand, but the writing was well and truly on the wall when his old news editor Ian Edmondson was suspended by the paper for his suspected involvement in the murky practice.
His situation was compounded when the dopey Crown Prosecution Service finally decided that phone hacking was still a crime if the phone was hacked after someone had listened to the message (and these are supposed to be top lawyers) and his boss coalition PM David Cameron said earlier this week that Coulson was “embarrassed” by his involvement in the scandal.
Coulson, who says he’s resigning because it’s untenable when “the spokesman needs a spokesman” is still protesting his innocence as, officially anyway, is Cameron.
But if would be extraordinary if Coulson didn’t know exactly what was going on at his paper between 2005 and 2007. The man’s a workaholic control freak.
But why has he resigned now? One theory is that fresh evidence about his involvement is about to emerge (almost certainly true). The other is that News Corporation, owner of the NoW, has decided that its plan to buy the 61 per cent of UK pay-TV operator BSkyB it doesn’t own will be harmed beyond repair by the antics of its former employees.
News has been bankrolling this lot in their expensive legal cases (and may well have agreed to support Coulson now he’s off the Government’s payroll). It has also tried to keep a lid on the scandal by buying off other victims of phone hacking including PFA boss Gordon Taylor and celebrity publicist Max Clifford.
But another victim actress Sienna Miller wasn’t having any of it and evidence the courts gave to her defence team tightened the noose around Coulson’s neck.
I wonder if new News Corporation spinmeister Simon Greenberg had anything to do with the decision to pull the rug out from under Coulson? Or News International boss Rebekah Brooks who shared jolly Christmas drinks with David Cameron in Oxfordshire?
But some people still have questions to answer, as does Coulson of course.
PM Cameron, whose one private sector job was PR man to Michael Green at Carlton TV so he should know how these things work, showed a lamentable lack of judgement in hiring Coulson in the first place and then defending him against all the evidence.
And Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner John Yates who has maintained throughout that there was no evidence to implicate anyone other than the paper’s jailed royal correspondent Clive Goodman and his PR sidekick Glenn Mulcaire should resign forthwith.
Scotland Yard’s craven toadying to the NoW is a national disgrace.