Tonight, the main news is—obviously—the situation in Libya. But Robert Peston’s claim that Andy Coulson carried on receiving payments from News International, as part of his severance package, while working for the Tories is worthy of note.
If true, this piece of news is a further embarrassment for the Tories and David Cameron. Even if the money was simply part of a severance deal, it does not look seemly for a political party to have a communications director who is in the pay of a media group (Though, it should be noted that these payments stopped at the end of 2007 once Coulson had been paid the amount he was entitled to). If the Tories did not know that Coulson was still receiving money from News International as part of his leaving deal, as is being suggested, then that implies quite remarkable level of incompetence on CCHQ’s behalf.
If Peston’s story is accurate, it would—as Tom Watson is pointing out—appear to contradict what Coulson himself told the Culture Media and Sport Select Committee in 2009.Tags: Andy Coulson, Conservatives, James Murdoch, Media, News international, Newspapers, Phone hacking, Rupert Murdoch, The News of the World, Tories, UK politics