If you hadn’t heard PMQs for yourself and only relied upon the BBC’s wash up of it afterwards you might not have realised that Miliband was completely steamrollered and failed utterly to make a dent in Cameron’s defence.
The central plank of Miliband’s attack was that the Cabinet Permanent Secretary, Gus O’Donnell, must have warned Cameron about the accusations against Coulson, Miliband also claimed that Coulson hadn’t been security vetted and if he had of been he would not have passed muster and therefore not have been given the job of communications director.
Miliband said there was now a very important question that the whole country wanted an answer to…did Sir Gus O’Donnell raise any concerns about Andy Coulson?
The BBC, in the shape of Andrew Neil and Nick Robinson, decided Cameron was lying when he said O’Donnell had not raised such concerns.
Robinson bizarrely tried to claim that Cameron’s defence, claiming that the revelations in Leveson cleared him, was similar to Blair trying to use the Hutton Inquiry to defend himself….as the BBC is of the opinion that the Hutton Inquiry was an Establishment whitewash presumably Robinson thinks Leveson is as well as Leveson certanly does clear Cameron.
Robinson went on to say Cameron had one problem…when Miliband asked him twice about whether there was civil service advice about Coulson Cameron insisted that that too had been raised in Leveson with Gus O’Donnell…Robinson says ‘I’ve checked and I can find no evidence that that was raised…what was unwise of the Prime Minister was to claim that Leveson cleared him of this..it seems to me he didn’t.’
Unfortunately anyone with the ability to run a word search of the witness statement of Gus O’Donnell to Leveson would have found that he did clear Cameron:
Question 30 – Please set out in full for the inquiry details of your role, if any, in relation to the appointment by the Prime Minster of Andy Coulson to a post in No.10. Your account should include a full explanation of the basis on which you were asked to advise. Mr Coulson was brought in as a special adviser to the Prime Minister.
I was not involved in the process of appointing Mr Coulson. Mr Coulson was cleared to SC (security clearance) level and was undergoing DV (developed vetting) clearance at the time of his resignation
Gus O’Donnell had no involvement in the appointment of Mr Coulson…pretty clear.
In other words Miliband’s attack, and Robinson’s ‘analysis’, is completely undermined by the actual evidence….Miliband himself claimed that O’Donnell had said nothing about Coulson at the Leveson Inquiry…clearly he did.
Robinson seems more intent on generating some sort of ‘scoop’ and whipping up a storm against Cameron rather than getting the real story…the real story which in fact provides a better scoop…..smashing Miliband’s attack. Robinson is more concerned with supposition and speculation despite admitting he had no evidence to back that up…I paraphrase his words here:
Now it seems extremely likely, though I haven’t got the evidence, that civil servants said ‘you do know there are some questions about Coulson?’…it seems to me to be extremely likely that that happened..I don’t know we weren’t there…..’I've checked and I can find no evidence that that [Leveson asked O'Donnell about Coulson] was raised…what was unwise of the Prime Minister was to claim that Leveson cleared him of this…it seems to me he didn’t.’
Pure speculation on Robinson’s part…if he’d bothered to check the statement he would have realised that not only had O’Donnell cleared Cameron but that Coulson was vetted.
More excellent journalism from the impartial, accurate and accountable BBC.
Robinson goes on to attack ‘another interesting tactic he [cameron] uses’….Robinson says Cameron said he got the same assurances about hacking that the police and the PCC got…and neither had felt the need to act upon those, and therefore this shows he was right not to be concerned either.
Robinson says thatCaeron is muddling his times because at the time the allegations were made the police hadn’t looked into this.
Robinson claims that this undermines Cameron’s defence…however logically it reinforces it…If the police and PCC came to this late in the day, with more time to look at evidence and with possibly more evidence, and yet still decided there was no case to answer, then that backs up Cameron’s decision made at a time when there was even less evidence.
We then had a Labour Spad telling us that it was totally implausible that Coulson wasn’t vetted…and they have failed to answer why Coulson wasn’t subject to that degree of scrutiny.
But as we saw from O’Donnell’s statement Coulson had an initial ‘SC’ level of vetting which allowed him to see secret, and sometimes top secret, material….and he was undergoing the DV process when he resigned.
Once again the BBC is allowing false information to be broadcast and false assertions made against Cameron without challenge.
Even at 17:00 the BBC were still claiming Coulson wasn’t vetted properly:
17:00: PMQs update – Labour is hoping to keep up the pressure on David Cameron by asking Sir David Normington, the former senior civil servant and Commissioner for Public Appointments, to investigate why Andy Coulson was not given top-level security clearance when he worked in Downing Street.
The Labour Spad then went on to claim that DV would have discovered that Coulson had been involved in hacking…..complete rubbish.
Shame though…that would have saved a £100 million trial…who knew eh? If only we had taken the Guardian’s word for things we could have chucked Coulson in jail and saved oursleves £100 million.
The same Guardian that lied about the News of The World deleting Milly Dowler’s text messages.
The BBC, whilst forensically delving into PMQs remarkably avoids the point raised by Philip Davies, Tory MP, (24 mins 50 secs) that when he was on the Culture, Media and Sport Committee’s inquiry into Press standards, privacy and libel no concerns had been raised about Coulson by any party, and that Nick Davies of the Guardian came to the Committee and revealed that he had never seen any evidence that directly linked Coulson to phone hacking and that the Committee concluded that:
‘have, however, not seen any evidence that the then Editor, Andy Coulson, knew, but consider he was right to resign.’
Always curious, and telling, what the BBC dodges around.
Miliband’s claims are comprehensively trashed by O’Donnell’s statement to Leveson…the statement that neither Andrew Neil nor Nick Robinson could find.