Tory grandee Ken Clarke turned up on the BBC’s World at One at lunchtime to have a concerted dig at David Cameron.
He pronounced it "unwise" for the Prime Minister to have made a statement yesterday apologising for hiring Andy Coulson, after the former aide was found guilty of conspiring to hack phones when he was editor of the News of the World.
Clarke asserted: “It’s clear that nobody took legal advice,” adding "I doubt whether it ever crossed David's mind" to seek legal counsel. In fact, Cameron had consulted the Attorney General, gaining the best legal advice in the nation.
Upon being told this, Clarke simply muttered "I seem to be agreeing with the judge", alluding to the criticism heaped on Cameron by the judge in the phone hacking trial in court yesterday.
Mr Justice Saunders questioned the Prime Minister for making a "full and frank" apology while the jury was still deliberating on two further charges on Coulson. He said:
I asked for an explanation from the Prime Minister as to why he had issued his statement while the jury were still considering verdicts" the judge, John Saunders, said in court.
"My sole concern is to ensure that justice is done. Politicians have other imperatives and I understand that. Whether the political imperative was such that statements could not await all the verdicts, I leave to others to judge."
If Clarke’s comments on the hacking verdict were not barbed enough, he then proceeded to take a swipe at Cameron for his tough stance against Jean-Claude Juncker, the leading candidate for the European Commission presidency.
I’m one of the few people that has met Jean-Claude Juncker. Nobody knows exactly what he is supposed to have done wrong. The idea he’s an arch-federalist is slightly exaggerated. He’s not an arch-villain.”
Speculation is rife in Westminster that Clarke knows his head will roll in the imminent reshuffle. The Minister Without Portfolio came under fire from Labour earlier this year when it emerged that he had cost the taxpayer hundreds of thousands of pounds despite not attending to any specific brief in government.
It emerged that the 73-year-old, who has spent 24 years in ministerial office in total, still had his own spin doctor, up to three officials working for him and went on nine foreign trips in less than a year.