There’s always a mixture of frustration and glee when mainstream media miss the blindingly obvious, leaving a lowly blogger like me to point it out. Most have focussed on Andy Coulson’s lack of security clearance and BSkyB shares – granted, both important issues. “No killer blow” have declared BBC correspondents, Sky reporters, journalists, politicos and other assorted lotophagi reviewing the Coulson evidence. I beg to differ.
The Prime Minister has been caught, today, lying. On record. Repeatedly.
Cameron was pulled up recently by MP Chris Bryant for meetings with Rupert Murdoch which had not been declared, despite his many statements to the House of Commons that he had published all of them. The reaction from Number 10 was swift, categorical and bullish. Rupert Murdoch’s lawyers rushed to withdraw the list of meetings attached to Rupe’s statement, and re-submitted it with some of the meetings in question omitted and some shown as “possible” or “proposed”. They could not be confirmed.
Cameron’s spokesman made a statement claiming “We are confident that the list we published was correct. Our list is based on our diary records and we believe those diary records are comprehensive.”
Cameron’s full list can be found here. The relevant extract for July is below:
Not included in the above is a party thrown by Mayor Bloomberg in New York in honour of the PM on 21st July 2010. Cameron has an explanation for this apparently. His spokesman explained that the list “would not include every person who the PM exchanged words with at a large event”.
But the New York party, according to Rupert Murdoch’s evidence may have been preceded by a private meeting. Downing Street denies this, since they claim that their list is complete. The Prime Minister denies this, since he has claimed that he has published all of them.
And here is the killer paragraph from Andy Coulson’s witness statement which appears to have evaded everyone:
“The second post-election meeting with Rupert Murdoch was in New York on the day Mayor Bloomberg organised a party in honour of the Prime Minister. Before the party Rupert Murdoch met David Cameron for around half an hour. He and I met briefly when he arrived, but I did not sit in on the meeting.”
His Director of Communications at the time, a man who seems unable to remember which traffic light colour denotes “stop” and which “go” (it’s red and green respectively, Andy) appears to recall this with crystal clarity. A private meeting. Quite separate from the party. For half an hour. Where is it on your list, number 10?
I have always thought the expression “innocent until proven guilty” a quirk of the English language. Surely it should be “unless proven”… Having observed this Government’s application of that legal principle to Andy Coulson, Liam Fox, Andy Werrity, Chris Huhne, Jeremy Hunt, Peter Cruddas, Rebekah Brooks et al, I am beginning to appreciate the wisdom of “until”.
Please read this important update: Cameron’s Extra Meeting with Murdoch.