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And, The Big One, how great was Murdoch's influence over Tony Blair's part in the invasion of Iraq

More difficult for Blair to deny have been claims he owes a debt to Murdoch for his newspapers' support during the Iraq war. Freedom of information requests have confirmed the men spoke three times on the telephone shortly before the invasion started.

A new play, Loyalty, showing at Hampstead Theatre and written by the journalist Sarah Helm, wife of Blair's chief of staff, Jonathan Powell, hints at what the two men may have talked about.

In one scene, Murdoch rings Blair to tell him he has been speaking to the US secretary of defence, Donald Rumsfeld. Murdoch says: "Don's boys need [the UK military base] Diego Garcia, Tony."

Blair signs off: "Right, thanks Rupert." Although the play is a fictionalised memoir, Whitehall insiders say it has the ring of authenticity.

purejuice: (Default)
It sounds like they're floating a trial balloon in hopes that a witness will step forward with the smoking gun evidence, or that the public will demand the PM fess up.

Nick Raynsford, the Labour MP who was local government minister, said: “I have been approached by an absolutely impeccable source, who has a lifetime of work in the public sector and was a senior official.
“He has told me that last summer he suspected his phone was hacked, his dustbin searched and covert surveillance took place on him.
“At the time, he was the subject of negative media briefing which he suspects was orchestrated by Andy Coulson at No 10. He complained to Sir Gus O’Donnell who advised him on the issue and put him in contact with the police.
“He now wishes this information to be put in the public domain.
“David Cameron must disclose as a matter of urgency whether he was warned of this incident, which suggests that potential criminality may have taken place at the heart of government.”

...Cabinet secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell has dismissed concerns that a senior civil servant's phone was hacked while Andy Coulson was in Downing Street as a "genuine misunderstanding", PA reports.

He said the individual had been subjected to "disgraceful, probably illegal, actions during the period about a year ago in which Andy Coulson was in charge of Government communications".

But O'Donnell said that although the civil servant had raised concerns about media harrassment and possible phone tampering, the matter was "thoroughly investigated" and no evidence of wrongdoing was found.

purejuice: (Default)
There are five issues that relate directly to Cameron in this long-running drama, his appointment of Andy Coulson, his extensive contacts with News International, the activities of his chief of staff Ed Llewellyn, his role in the BSkyB deal that almost came to spectacular fruition and his response to the firestorm of the last three weeks, the first crisis in which he, rather than Nick Clegg, has been the centre of attention. How damaging are each of the issues and is there more to come?


I'd add the explosive issue that Scotland Yard is out to get him, and the question of whether or not NI performed dark arts (hacking, police bribery, intimidation of enemies) for him or at his behest.
purejuice: (Default)
Part of the hair-raising pleasure of observing British politics is the skill with which rhetoric -- learned at the Oxford and Cambridge debating societies, which are the launch pad for careers in politics -- is deployed.

There's a classic name for this one, lobbed by Cameron, which only a Brit would know, having read it in the original Greek how-to by silver-tongued Demosthenes. Like the double-half-hitch-Tongue-Fu-Phi-Epsilon-whammy.

Cameron asserted this in his speech to Parliament today, and the salient bit which raised the hair on my arms was how he reframed what could easily be seen as a coverup -- his chief of staff's refusal to be briefed on hacking and/or his employee, Coulson -- as the right and proper thing to do.

No 10 has now published the full email exchange between my chief of Staff and John Yates and it shows my staff behaved entirely properly.

Ed Llewellyn’s reply to the police made clear that it would be not be appropriate to give me or my staff any privileged briefing.

The reply that he sent was cleared in advance by my Permanent Secretary, Jeremy Heywood.

Just imagine, Mr Speaker, if they had done the opposite and asked for, or acquiesced in receiving privileged information – even if there was no intention to use it.

There would have been quite justified outrage.

To risk any perception that No 10 was seeking to influence a sensitive police investigation in any way would have been completely wrong.

Mr Yates and Sir Paul both backed this judgment in their evidence yesterday.


I am almost certain that Yates and Sir Paul said nothing of the kind. And I'm certain my fiancé is on the case, since parsing who is lying seems to be his mandate at this point.

On the other hand, a reasonably trustworthy straight arrow leftish pundit says:
In another easily-missed aside, Cameron argued that Llewelyn was guiding the police towards not acting improperly.

It was by no means easily missed but stood out as some sort of pixelated and vibrating version of another reality.

I wonder what it does mean?


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January 2012



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