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8 September 2010updated 27 Sep 2015 2:14am

Clegg forced to defend Coulson

Lib Dem Deputy PM surprisingly bullish. But there is a catch.

By James Macintyre

Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat Deputy Prime Minister, was forced to defend the continuing presence in government of David Cameron’s controversial communications chief, Andy Coulson, today after he was drafted in to answer for the government at PMQs after Cameron went to be with his father who is ill.

Questioned by Jack Straw, the shadow justice secretary, the ever-more-enthusiastic Clegg repeatedly said the phone tapping saga at the News of the World was a matter for the police and not the government. He brushed aside a reference to the Environment Secretary, Chris Huhne, who said before the coalition was formed that “a future prime minister cannot have someone who is involved in these sort of underhand tactics”. And in a surprisingly bullish flourish, he said he would not “take lessons” from the party — Labour — of Damian McBride.

All good debating tactics. But there is a catch: McBride (rightly) resigned.

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