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8 July 2011

Coulson’s luck runs out

David Cameron's former director of communications expected to be arrested today.

By George Eaton

Update: The Times reports that Coulson will be questioned at a west end police station later today.

The day Andy Coulson must have dreaded is finally here. Exactly two years since the revelation that News International paid out more than £1m in hush money to gag phone-hacking victims, David Cameron’s former director communications will be arrested. Spared the indignity of a dawn raid, he was informed by the police yesterday.

His arrest became inevitable after News International released new email evidence suggesting that Coulson approved illegal payments to officers. As I noted yesterday, he has also potentially perjured himself. During Tommy Sheridan’s trial last December, Coulson was memorably asked by Sheridan (who acted as his own counsel): “did the News of the World pay corrupt police officers?” he replied: “Not to my knowledge.” The Crown Office has asked Strathclyde Police to conduct a “preliminary assessment” of witness evidence from the trial.

It all underlines what a terrible misjudgement Cameron made by first appointing Coulson as Conservative director of communications and then bringing him into Downing Street. He later repeatedly refused to accept Coulson’s resignation, endangering his own premiership. Were Coulson still in No 10 today, the latest revelations would be even more damaging for Cameron.

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In his speech at Reuters this morning, Ed Miliband tightened the noose on Cameron by demanding that he apologise for bringing Coulson “into the centre of the government machine” and that he come clean about what conversations he had with him about phone hacking. As will become increasingly clear, the Prime Minister was either a fool or a knave to appoint Coulson.

In a desperate attempt to regain the initiative, Cameron will hold a hastily-arranged press conference at 9:30 this morning. Let’s see what he has to say then.