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19 July 2011

Osborne is drawn into the scandal

Rebekah Brooks confirms that it was George Osborne's idea to hire Andy Coulson.

By George Eaton

After the earlier drama of Rupert and James Murdoch’s appearance, there was little revelatory about Rebekah Brooks’s time before the media select committee. But perhaps the key moment, politically speaking, came when Brooks confirmed that it was George Osborne’s idea to appoint Andy Coulson as the Conservative Party’s director of communications.

In doing so, she rebutted the claim, made today by Polly Toynbee, that Coulson was a News International plant. She told MPs: “The allegation is I told the Prime Minister to hire Andy Coulson. The idea came from George Osborne.” For the first time since the Milly Dowler story broke, the Chancellor has been directly named by one of the dramatis personae of the scandal. It was already widely known that he headhunted Coulson; what’s significant is that Brooks has now put this fact on record.

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With some success, the Macavity-like Osborne has attempted to keep a low profile over the last two weeks but he, along with David Cameron, will now face serious and long overdue questions about his judgement.