Guardian revelation on Coulson could be problematic for Cameron
The Guardian newspaper has released a statement regarding the former Tory communications adviser Andy Coulson that could prove problematic for British Prime Minister David Cameron. Prior to the 2010 general election, the Guardian provided information to David Cameron (and the other party leaders) relating to Coulson and the private investigator Jonathan Rees who is at the centre of the phone hacking scandal at News of the World. Coulson was then communications director of the Conservative Party, having been appointed to David Cameron's personnel in 2007 (and earning a wage of £140,000, the highest paid special adviser).
The Guardian statement is as below. Video of David Cameron's press conference on the matter follows.
Before the general election the Guardian contacted all three party leaders to tell them of certain facts about Andy Coulson which the Guardian could not at that stage report. In a telephone call around February 25th, Guardian deputy editor Ian Katz told the prime minister's director of strategy Steve Hilton a number of details about the case of Jonathan Rees, a private detective who had worked for the News of the World, which the paper had been unable to publish due to ongoing legal proceedings. These included:
• Rees's name – he had been described in a Guardian report published online on February 24th and in the paper edition of February 25th only as "Mr A"
• The fact that he was awaiting trial for a murder in which the victim was found in a pub car park with an axe in his head
• The fact that Rees had been jailed for seven years for conspiring to frame a woman by placing cocaine in her car, after which he had been rehired by Coulson's News of the World.
• The fact that Rees's illegal activities on behalf of the News of the World had been prominently reported in the Guardian before he was rehired under Coulson.
None of these details was included in any report for several months until after the collapse of Rees's trial in March 2011. The thrust of the conversation was that Rees was a murder suspect who had been involved in massive corruption on behalf of the News of the World of which Coulson could not have been unaware. The Guardian understands No 10 chief of staff Edward Llewelyn was informed of this conversation.
Downing Street's reference to the private detective working for Panorama is baffling and irrelevant to how the Rees information was handled. There was no suggestion that Rees ever had any connection with Panorama until March 2011, many months after No 10 was told the details of the Rees case.