Peter Hoskin

No change on the Coulson front

No change on the Coulson front
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After the news that there won't be a new police investigation last night, the second thing the Tories feared most hasn't happened either: neither the Guardian nor any other outlet has anything to further implicate Andy Coulson in the phone-hacking scandal this morning.  Indeed, the Guardian's main story concerns how a private investigator working for the NotW collected phone messages from Sir Alex Ferguson and Alan Shearer, among others.  That deepens the media controversy, but hardly fuels the political controversy which was trying to burst into flames yesterday.

I should stress - as I did in a comment yesterday - that I think phone-hacking is a disgraceful practice.  But the fact remains that, unless more revelations emerge, the case against Coulson has barely progressed since he resigned the editorship of the NotW in January 2007.  Yes, the dubious practice was more widespread than most people knew (although not, surely, more widespread than they suspected) during the court case of Clive Goodman.  But Coulson has still not been tied, irredeemably, into it all.  So it puzzles me why Ann Clwyd is kicking up such a fuss about "Mr. Coulson's dubious reputation," without futher evidence and without having done so before.

Certainly, Coulson has questions to answer - and they'll most likely be put to him in due course.  In the meantime, Team Cameron are rallying around him in a manner which suggests he'll keep his job.  Despite the absence of fatal evidence against Coulson, this remains a politically difficult spell for them.  But, without that fatal evidence, it's unlikely to be a game-changer.