Steerpike Steerpike

Downing Street aides get their payout

Andy Coulson arrives at the Old Bailey in July 2014. (Photo by Rob Stothard/Getty Images)

When you say the name ‘Andy Coulson,’ it’s hard not to think of the phone hacking scandal. The former News of the World editor served five months of an 18-month sentence for conspiracy to commit phone hacking in 2014 but has now managed to rebound from Belmarsh to business success, with a PR firm making half-a-million pounds a year.

According to company accounts, the one-time Downing Street aide’s new outfit Coulson Partners Limited – for which Coulson is listed as the sole director and owner of 100 per cent of shares – declared total equity of £496,000 at the end of 2021. It pulled in more than a million last year, less £541,000 owed to creditors. The firm’s glossy website promises ‘Strategic advice that moves the dial’ and ‘unambiguous advice from professionals who’ve been poacher, gamekeeper, and game.’ Well, as a former journalist turned spin doctor, Andy would know all about that.

Sadly though, Coulson’s ‘founder’ bio makes no mention of his own little brush with the law. His company has also been bolstered by the arrival of Jon Steafel, another former Fleet Street exec who knows a thing or two about crisis comms, given his savaging by Alastair Campbell on Newsnight in 2013. And that’s not the only journalistic reunion for Coulson, who last month wrote a Times column for his former News UK employers, calling for Boris Johnson to show ‘honour and decency’ and resign. Talk about a redemption arc.

Still, it’s not just Cameron-era aides making good. Theresa May’s former chief of staff Gavin Barwell is enjoying life in the House of Lords and counting the cash from his eponymous firm. Barwell – who now bills himself as a ‘public affairs consultant’ – saw the nets assets of his company increase by 850 per cent in a year, rising from £27,805 in 2020 to £237,730 in 2021.

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