Insiders predict Andy Coulson is not long for this world

As the home affairs select committee announces a fresh inquiry, observers say it is a question of wh

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Much to the anger of Tory high command, the Andy Coulson story has been given fresh "legs" this afternoon with the news that the home affairs select committee will investigate the affair. The inquiry follows that by the culture committee.

The home affairs committee says the inquiry will focus on:

* The definition of the offences relating to unauthorised tapping or hacking in the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, and the ease of prosecuting such offences; and
* The police response to such offences, especially the treatment of those whose communications have been intercepted; and
* What the police are doing to control such offences

It is fair to say that David Cameron's communications chief is now well and truly a story. Some argue that Cameron would benefit by cutting him loose sooner rather than later. One Tory observer pointed out that it is a "no win" situation because, while wrongdoing may be hard to prove, it is also impossible for Coulson to be comprehensively cleared of knowing about phone tapping at his former paper the News of the World. A separate insider today predicted that he would go "in six months or so" and that the departure would be portrayed as having nothing to do with this affair. But that was before the latest development.

UPDATE: Westminster rumour has it that several more senior politicians are set to come forward with claims their phones have been tapped.

James Macintyre is political correspondent for the New Statesman.
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