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One front of phone hacking fallout is the prime minister's having hired one of the alleged NotW hackers as communications director, first for the Conservative Party and then as the news director for the Prime Minister.

The opposition leader Miliband and others are trying to make something out of this, which is a serious error of judgment on the part of Cameron, who has stubbornly defended both Coulson, the editor in question, and his decision to hire him.

What is emerging is that Cameron's enemies -- now, most formidably, Scotland Yard itself -- are trying to make stick is the fury of the Scotland Yard executives, who, using a defense similar to Murdoch and Brooks -- we're not the only dirty dogs in this fiasco -- are disclosing details of their relation with the prime minister in their testimony before Parliament.

Their explicitly expressed anger is that if their two senior officers, Stephenson and Yates, the two senior police officers in Britain, had to resign because they hired an NotW executive (Wallis), why should the Prime Minister, who hired an even skankier NotW executive (Coulson), not resign also?

What both Stephenson, who resigned on Sunday, and Yates, ditto, told Parliament on Monday is that they both warned the prime minister's chief of staff about phone hacking matters, and the chief of staff asked them explicitly not to contaminate the prime minister with such information.

The prime minister -- and this is the very nice thing about making a cop your enemy -- was forced to release the text of emails between Yates and the chief of staff indicating the sort of menacing euphemisms these people used with each other.

Emails which showed how Llewellyn blocked the police from briefing the prime minister were released by Downing Street on Tuesday afternoon. In an email on 10 September, Cameron's chief of staff said he would be "grateful" if Yates did not raise the subject of phone hacking with the prime minister in a forthcoming meeting and suggested to Yates "for your sake and ours ... that we have not been in contact with you about this subject".

Yates first wrote: "I am coming over to see the PM at 12.30 today regarding [redacted: national security] matters. I am very happy to have a conversation in the margins around the other matters that have caught my attention this week if you thought it would be useful."

On the same day, Llewellyn responded: "On the other matters that have caught your attention this week, assuming we are thinking of the same thing, I am sure you will understand that we will want to be able to be entirely clear, for your sake and ours, that we have not been in contact with you about this subject.

"So I don't think it would really be appropriate for the PM, or anyone else at No 10, to discuss this issue with you, and would be grateful if it were not raised, please.

"But the PM looks forward to seeing you, with Peter Ricketts and Jonathan Evans, purely on [redacted: national security] matters at 12.30."

Intriguingly the words "phone hacking" do not feature in the emails, a sign that both Llewellyn and Yates may have been aware of the danger that their communication could become public should there be a trawl through records following a freedom of information request. A Cabinet Office spokesman said: "The cabinet secretary has seen the exchange of emails and he believes that the chief of staff acted entirely properly."


Cameron is also accused of innappropriate discussion of the BSkyB satellite TV takeover with the Murdochs.

And, quite murkily, but potentially most damaging, in Parliament today, an MP has alleged that a government official was hacked during Coulson's tenure as director of the Cameron government media service.

Finally, I forgot who, is trying to make something out of the fact that Coulson, while government news media director, consulted with his former NotW colleague, Wallis, who was also on retainer at Scotland Yard. If Wallis' two jobs overlapped, and/or if Scotland Yard info was tendered by Wallis, or vice versa 10 Downing Street info by Coulson, this would be potentially serious.

I think if Cameron's got Scotland Yard pissed off, and its well-liked former assistant commissioner Yates is encouraging his former colleagues to release confidential information after his abrupt resignation from the force, that the prime minister is in big trouble. Leaks from Scotland Yard will bring him down; I suspect the Mandarin's phone hacked story brought to bear in Parliament today is a leak from Scotland Yard.

Do they always get their man?


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January 2012


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