Saturday, September 04, 2010

Coulson's Accusers Can Go to Hell

Andy Coulson is bloody good at his job. That's why the likes of The Guardian, Alastair Campbell, Prescott and Johnson are doing their best to jump on the back of the New York Times story about an ex News of the World journalist who was sacked by the paper for persistent drug and alcohol problems. You don't think he might have a grudge, do you?

They all want Coulson's scalp. Well, sod 'em.

The Police investigated this and found that Coulson had nothing to answer for. So did the DCMS Select Committee. Clearly that's not good enough for Campbell and Prescott - those very models of good media practice and personal conduct.

Coulson took responsibility for the episode at the time and resigned. What do they want him to do - resign a second time from a job which has nothing to do his previous incarnation?

Dizzy's take is interesting HERE. And he takes to task those who refer to hacking and tapping without really knowing what they are talking about...

* Calling someone's mobile, waiting for it to go to voicemail and then entering
their four digit pin (0000) is not hacking. Hacking is about circumventing
security, not being presented with them and passing them.

** Calling someone's mobile, waiting for it to go to voicemail and then entering their four digit pin (0000) is not tapping. Tapping is the covert act of real-time
interception of active communication links.


I quote Dizzy not to condone the practice but to point out things might not quite always be as they seem.

Whatever people thought of Andy Coulson's appointment back in 2006, over the last four years he has proved himself in the job. He's bloody good at it. His accusers are political opportunists who were part of a government which did far worse things than anything Coulson is accused of.
As far as I am concerned they can go to hell. Coulson is innocent until proven guilty.

57 comments:

Sunder Katwala said...

Several problems with your argument here, Iain.

Coulson does not (like Dizzy) claim it was a legitimate and not illegal practice. He says he knew nothing about it; he has said that to the Prime Minister and to Parliament. He might be telling the truth, but can you find any journalist in London who thinks that is credible?

If it is a labour party plot, why do the New York Times investigate it? Why does Andrew Neil think Coulson's claim not to know iscompletely incredible? Are they all agents of the Milibands?

There are four possible positions:

(1) He didn't know about criminal activity. There was one bad apple. (His position, undermined by a dozen colleagues who spoke to the New York Times).

(2) He did know - but it wasn't criminal, and the NOTW should own up and defend it as legitimate. (Dizzy)

(3) He did know, it was criminal, but a tabloid editor should get away with an "everybody was doing it" defence.
(The private NOTW/Tory position)

(4) He did know. Whether it was criminal or not, who cares if he is now useful to David Cameron. (Iain Dale and probably David Cameron's position). Let's say it is just partisan, and that there are no journalistic ethics/legal issues involved in the NOTW practices.

OxfordSpring said...

I agree with you and Dizzy on the facts of the case - those seeking Coulson's scalp will be disappointed.

But to say he has done a good job for Cameron... well, that needs to be backed up with a bit more evidence! There are plenty in the party who would be happy to see him go due to his lack of competence.

Dick the Prick said...

Whoa, Iain. Fair play innocent until proven guilty and all that but whilst, I agree that the accusers are from a select and mendacious section of a disgraceful community, we must accept that some of these claims do seem quite controversial.

This is a matter for the Rozzers and it's quite amusing listening to Humphries et al express their bias.

Plus, as Oxford Spring has said, Coulson doing a grand job? Hardly.

Chris said...

"Calling someone's mobile, waiting for it to go to voicemail and then entering
their four digit pin (0000) is not hacking. Hacking is about circumventing
security, not being presented with them and passing them."

God forbid if anyone should ever work out your blog password, I hope you don't mind me reminding you of this when you start shouting "hacker" from the rooftops.

Its a safe bet - you only have to disagree with you to be called a "lefty", and if you ask a question you can't answer too many times you're a "stalker". I'm not sure you're in a position to be lecturing anyone.

PoliticalHack said...

That's an interesting argument, Iain. Why didn't Mulcaire and Goodman's lawyers try it? Given that the CPS had the evidence to sustain a conviction for conspiracy to intercept telephone calls without lawful authority, the legal test for 'tapping' has been passed. Arguing over technical definitions is irrelevant.

The evidence - presented by five top-notch journalists and sourced to more than just one former NotW hack - points clearly to what any sentient observer must realise. Andy Coulson knew exactly what was going on and encouraged the 'dark arts' to be used to get stories.

He has denied any knowledge or involvement and denied it to a Commons committee.

Does the act of lying to a parliamentary committee make him a fit person to represent the Prime Minister to the world's media?

Does the peculiar decision of the Met to limit their investigation to a handful of people and not the hundreds listed not deserve further inquiry?

Senior Met officers persuaded the last Home Secretary not to hand the case over to HMIC for consideration on the basis that the investigation would be thorough - he appears to have been misled by them. Does that not deserve investigation?

Coulson is only a small part of this. The apparent ability of News International to influence a police investigation should be of greater concern to everyone interested in justice.

ascorbic said...

No, that's exactly what hacking is. Getting past security without permission. Using default passwords is a really common way of hacking.

pauldrivers said...

On the today programme at 1hr 37 min John Humphries said to Alan Duncan on the Coulson issue "How can you describe it as a Labour party campaign when it is people like the Guardian who are following it up " Says it all about the BBC and that windbag Humphries

Tim Footman said...

If he really didn’t know what was going on, he was a bloody terrible editor. What evidence do you have that he’s any better in his current job?

Henry_Tree said...

I listened yesterday to BBC's "Today" and my blood pressure rapidly went off the scale listening to the cosy, uninterrupted chat that Lard Prescott of Two Pies was having about the Coulson affair. Talk about hypocrisy!

Prescott brought more outright shame and humiliation down upon himself with his greed, gross misconduct in office, incompetence, lies and abuse of power than any other politician since the war. He also added an overwhelming stench in the House of Lords the day he took the oath "for Pauline".

Yet there he was, in his tailor made Teflon Suit, trying desperately to sound like an outraged vicar.

That man, that programme, and indeed the whole of the BBC make me want to vomit when they start pontificating about the likes of Coulson.

Paul Linford said...

Whenever Tories rush to defend Coulson it reminds me of the comment often heard in Labour circles in the 80s and 90s about Peter Mandelson/Alastair Campbell. "Yes, he's a bastard, but at least he's our bastard."

kasou said...

Iain

I mentioned before that the Torys must watch their backs if they get in. The New Labour media manipulators are still out there, and are now bitter (just look at the BBC), get tough back (thankyou for doing just that).

Liebor have had the press in their pockets for many years, it isnt going to go away overnight. You know better than me what dirty tricks they can get up to.

Expect more.

PS I am (was) an avid reader of Guido, but find myself wondering if he has lost the plot and is now playing a new game. Always thought he was pretty good at digging the real story out...seeems hes been on to much of high.

Salmondnet said...

No idea whether Coulson is guilty or not, but if Labour politicians had doubts about the original police investigation they should have said so when they were in office and in a position to do something about it, not years after the event

Adam said...

I quite agree with you. This is neither hacking nor tapping, but sheer laziness on the part of those who couldn't be bothered to change their pin numbers from the factory settings.

It does however beg an interesting question... if these important people - members of the Royal family and senior politicians - can just get new hardware and use it without changing vital pin numbers, what is the taxpayer paying the highly expensive Diplomatic Protection Squad, Royal Protection Squad, and other security officers for? How much money has been given to consultants for security advice?

If these people are so important, then no communications hardware should reach their hands without it being checked first. These type of procedures are followed in the U.s. - why not here? I'd have thought that ensuring these basic security procedures were followed was a priority.

Old Holborn said...

As I keep saying Iain, stop being so naive

http://www.fivechinesecrackers.com/2010/09/what-would-met-get-in-return-for-not.html

Will 883 said...

"Hacking is about circumventing
security, not being presented with them and passing them"

What an incredibly naive and irresponsible viewpoint. And what does that even mean, in fact? That if you guess somebody's log in details it's okay?

My dictionary says hacking is "gaining unauthorised access" to information or files, which is exactly what this is about.

richard.blogger said...

"Calling someone's mobile, waiting for it to go to voicemail and then entering their four digit pin (0000) is not hacking. Hacking is about circumventing security, not being presented with them and passing them."

It is still unauthorized access. If you were walking behind someone and an opened letter fell out of their pocket, would you read the letter? I am quite amazed that someone who lectures us pompously about privacy should argue that unauthorised access to someone's phone is acceptable and worse, that printing information obtained in such a way is acceptable.

What is worrying about this is the sheer scale. The police chose to prosecute just two people on just a handful of cases. The NYT (and to be fair, the Nick Davies original report) point out that it was thousands of people who were affected.

If it had been just one or two cases, then it could be argued that an overworked manager (which is what an editor is) could overlook what his employees are doing and not know what is going on. The sheer scale of this shows that Coulson must have known. If he did not know then the only other explanation would be that he is not doing his job keeping an eye on what many of his staff are doing.

Either way (condoning illegal and unauthorised access to people's phones; or not knowing what is rife amongst his staff) show that he is unsuitable to be in such an important position in government.

carl said...

Iain,

It is unlawful to intercept any form of communication between sender and recipient except if duly authorised in advance by a secretary of state.

Telecommunications Act 1984.

Go to hell? Talk of collusion between press and police is a serious matter.

What with your attack on Mike, ludicrous and emotional arguements in defence of Hague and his naive conduct and this, I have to say I can no longer take anything you say seriously.

I think you should take some time out to reflect. Seems to me with the Tories in opposition you were a quality blogger. In power, you're VERY wide of the mark.

Time was I held you in high esteem but you've eroded that away to nothing in a very short period of time.

Shame. Hope you sort your act out.

The Purpleline said...

If the Government can listen to selected people, then why on earth can we not listen to people of interest?

I'd like to turn the argument on its head and catch these lefties with their own petards. If people have nothing to hide then they have nothing to fear.

Did I not hear that about DNA data base and other such issues under the labour admin.

I have fantastic fun with people who telephone me at home, especially government departments, banks. After listening to their the call may be recorded for staff traing, i always start with i'm recording the conversation to protect my interests, you should hear them squeal, one refuses to talk because I could not provide proof of data protection.

When i countered by asking them where, how long and what protection they had in place they could not provide it.
I simply said mine is recorded locked in a safe for one year ha ha. love it they do not like it up em as corporal Jones used to say

boggits said...

"Calling someone's mobile, waiting for it to go to voicemail and then entering their four digit pin (0000) is not hacking. Hacking is about circumventing security, not being presented with them and passing them."

No the correct term for this (and most activities described as 'hacking') is Cracking or (as it involves the phone network) Phreaking.

A hacker is a person who takes things apart to find out how they work usually out of interest, curiosity or just because its there. Once they cross the line of legality and start to deliberately try to get into a system for gain they become a 'Cracker'.

A Phreaker is someone who hacks with phone networks usually with the aim of deriving benefit (so the NOTW activities - if true - would definitely fall into this category)

Jimmy said...

"Calling someone's mobile, waiting for it to go to voicemail and then entering their four digit pin (0000) is not tapping."

Well that's alright then isn't it?

norman said...

Labour is a big sh*t after Blair condemnation of Brown and many's revelations. They want to divert attention. As for NYtimes, a Guardian paper of America, they are at war with WSJ and Mudoch. Yes, Humphries the pinko rattled in this moring on R4, but not surprisingly he was terrified of Campbell when sexed up allegations came up. As for Jowell, let u remind ourselves that only recently her husband was cleared, and not sure they were separated at all, again Campbell's facade this was.

Alan Johnson , the postie, yes, he would review wouldn;t he now.

As I said Labour is in a big sh*t and leave them there. Think of Labour Brown and Blair come to mind. That says it all. I enjoyed the clip about the protesters serving shoes +etc.. at Blair in Dublin.

Katabasis said...

"Calling someone's mobile, waiting for it to go to voicemail and then entering
their four digit pin (0000) is not hacking. Hacking is about circumventing
security, not being presented with them and passing them."


To reiterate what other posters have already said, this definitely falls within remit of hacking and indeed is the most common type of hack.

I'm becoming increasingly disappointed in the knee-jerk tribalism I'm seeing from both pro-Labour and pro-Tory supporters, because hope of getting to the truth is obscured very quickly as a result on this and other issues.

DocRichard said...

So, Ian, can you assent to this proposition:

"Andy Coulson did not know about the illegal eavesdropping operation which took place while he was editor of the News of the World. It is quite absurd to suggest that he might have done".

Go on. Be the first.

David Boothroyd said...

Andrew Neil's attitude is (on this rare occasion) the correct one. Andy Coulson was the editor of a mass market paper whose lifeblood was in printing exclusive stories. Clive Goodman was a prodigious supplier of such stories which were top quality and did not turn out to be untrue. It's an insult to Andy Coulson's professional abilities as a newspaper editor to claim that he was uninterested in, and ignorant of, the sources from whom Goodman was getting his stories.

chris said...

Im sorry but you dont know what youre talking about. It may be that your password is rubbish, something like 0000. but it is still a password, and as there is security it still is hacking by the standard definition. So illegal under the misuse of compputers act and the regulation of investigatory powers act.

John said...

I agree with Andrew Neil on this one.

On 'This Week' (or 'The Daily Politics') a while ago he said, as an editor, it was inconceivable that he would run a story which may mean being in court, sued for libel, without knowing exactly how the journalist got his story and how he would defend it in court.

Perhaps Coulson is just a bit more reckless. If so, I suggest that Cameron should watch out.

HampsteadOwl said...

Basically Iain your post boils down to the good old "sod off" defence, and I'd stick to that if I were you, because the rest of what you serve up has a bigger hole in it than the hull of the Titanic.

You say that the NYT story comes from one source with a grudge. Well they claim more than a dozen sources, and even if that is an exaggeration it is disingenuous nonsense to try to pretend that the only person who thinks the News of the World was up to no good is a single guy with a grudge. I would say that the NotW's dabbling in the dark arts, before, during after Coulson's tenure as editor, is pretty universally accepted.

"The police investigated this and found that Coulson had nothing to answer for. So did the DCMS select committee".

Well no they didn't actually. The whole point about the police investigation is that they didn't pursue the matter, not once they had got Goodman and Mulcaire. John Whittingdale says as much in the NYT piece. They may not have found evidence against Coulson personally, but that's because they never looked for it, not because it wasn't there.

As for the DCMS committee, it said that Coulson was right to take responsibility for the "serious management failure" that allowed phone hacking to take place on his watch, and to resign for it. It didn't link him directly to knowledge of the hacking itself, but I don't suppose anyone on the Committee, or anyone else who doesn't have a Central Office loyalty chip embedded in their skull, seriously thinks Coulson didn't know. As many others have remarked before, if he didn't then what sort of crap editor was he?

Where I do agree with you is that Coulson resigned once over this lot, so he can hardly be expected to resign again for it from an unrelated position. Not without incontrovertible evidence that he did know about the hacking, and that therefore he lied to the select committee. But I don't suppose that will happen.

If Cameron wants to keep Coulson on, that's this business. Blair kept hold of Alistair Campbell, who was obviously a very nasty piece of work, for seven years on the grounds that he was "bloody good at his job". So be it. But don't imagine that you have given an acceptable defence of Coulson's behaviour, because you haven't.

Jules said...

"Whatever people thought of Andy Coulson's appointment back in 2006...

What appointment are you referring to? My understanding is that Coulson became Conservative Party Director of Communications on 9 July 2007. Or are you saying he had a role with the Tories while still editing the NotW?

Paul Donnelley said...

It is frankly impossible to believe that Andy Coulson did not know about the phone tapping/hacking at the News of the World.

Of course he knew. Should he resign/be sacked now? That's a different matter but it is an insult to our intelligence for him to claim that he did not know or that Clive Goodman was the only one at it...

-0- said...

Stealing a PIN number is identity theft, not hacking

Victor, NW Kent said...

Coulson is certainly innocent until incontrovertible proof of guilt is produced and tested in court.

That doesn't mean that he is worth his salt to Cameron.

Unsworth said...

@ Sunder Katwala

"If it is a labour party plot, why do the New York Times investigate it?"

Why do you think the NYT might 'investigate' it? You really haven't a clue as to the background here, have you? Does the name Murdoch mean anything to you?

The NYT is currently fighting for its very existence - and not doing very well. Why should we British concern ourselves with what the NYT has to say about a old and slightly rehashed story from the UK, anyway?

There's a great deal more to it than you obviously understand. Prescott and his cronies are way out of their depth on this one.

A fundamental part of NuLab tactics is to accuse and then not follow through. All this bollocks by Prescott et al about seeking a judicial review is hysterical claptrap. Any judge would throw the request out. The matter has been investigated by the police and the DCMS Select Committee, so unless these political opportunists can come forward with new and compelling evidence it ain't going anywhere.

Oh, and if you (or anyone) are going to accuse Coulson of lying you're (they're) going to have to prove it. It's not up to him to disprove the accusation, is it?

Rush-is-Right said...

It seems to me that leaving your voice-mail password stuck on the default setting just invites its interception. It's like sending a postcard through the mail, you have to expect that other people are going to access the information, and you have no business complaining.

It's called contributory negligence.

Oh, and I liked The Purpleline's comment. If gov't departments can intercept my communications, then it is axiomatic that I can do the same to them. Especially if, as in the case of the oaf Prescott, the target has has been party to an unprecedented extension of State Intrusion into our lives. They don't have a leg.

Mirtha Tidville said...

The moment you hear something being stirred up by the thick, useless, fat boy prescott you know it has no value whatsoever other than to muddy waters....Those particular waters are the BLiar Brown stuff that they want to cover up.....typical

The Tories need to hog the airwaves, especially the BBC, and switch the conversation to how Bliar Brown are destroying the Liebour party...Believe me the Coulson story would be dead in the water in less than a day..

Question is have they the balls and has Coulson the nous..I happen to think the man is useless but thats another story

HampsteadOwl said...

@Unsworth

The fact that the NYT may have been (and probably were) motivated by their rivalry with Murdoch to follow this story up doesn't make it all part of a "Labour Party plot"; nor does it invalidate their journalism. The piece is obviously well-researched.

Did illegal phone hacking go on at the NotW while Coulson was editor? Yes. Two men went to prison for it, and he resigned for it.

Was Coulson culpable? Undoubtedly yes. The DCMS report, which you and his other defenders are so keen on quoting, criticised the "severe management failure" that allowed hacking to happen on his watch and said that he was right to walk for that reason.

Did Coulson personally know about the hacking? Don't know and nor do you. My own view, and it's only that, is that it is a lot more plausible that he astutely covered his tracks than that, as the editor of a major tabloid he was blissfully ignorant about how that tabloid was getting many of its stories, especially as those methods were likely to (and did) land the paper in hot water. If he didn't know, he should have done.

Where you and Iain Dale are wrong is in saying the police investigation cleared him. It didn't indict him, but that's saying something different. The whole point is that the police investigation didn't follow through once they had Goodman and Mulcaire bang to rights.

That said, of course you're right that Labour are jumping on this for opportunistic reasons. Wouldn't the Tories have loved to have this stuff with which to work over Alistair Campbell. It's also true that, unless it can be incontrovertibly shown that Coulson did know about the hacking - and therefore that he lied to the select committee - he has no reason to resign from his current post. David Cameron is perfectly entitled to keep Coulson on, but he is just going to have to accept that this controversy comes as part of the package.

PS: I posted much of this as a comment yesterday afternoon, but it didn't get through, I trust for technical rather than censorship reasons. Better luck this time.

Jon said...

Simple......http://www.fivechinesecrackers.com/ Are we surprised? I think not! Virtually everything is completely corrupt. End

Red Rag said...

Iain, hate to say this but you are getting worse by the day. You will defend whatever actions the Tories and their supporters do to the hilt, with the exception of those that have some interference with you and your sexuality.Maybe you are right and all these ex-employers of Coulson who have come out and said he knew all about the tapping incidents. If you are right, then he cannot be doing a good job for Cameron, as he won't got a clue what the people below him are actually doing. You cannot have it both ways.

You really are becoming the Tory Party lickspittal.Such a shame

ascorbic said...

It's really frustrating how this has been turned into a party political issue by both sides. If the allegations are true, the real scandal is the involvement of the Met and CPS in brushing this under the carpet.

Patrick said...

only on the BBC was it the lead story.....

Seems like old news to me.

Margin said...

The story will rumble on and on and in the end Coulson will probably have to quit as it will embarrass his party and his leader.

But does no one think that to have been editor of a newspaper at which the practice was not utterly uncommon - and to have not noticed or thought to look into it when presented with remarkably detailed transcripts of phone conversations - hints at idiocy?

Or is the defence of Coulson like Alber Speer's defence that he chose against looking into certain things knowing he wouldn't like what he found?

Because even Speer acknowledged that was itself guilt on his part.

RonLiddle said...

Hardly a regurgitation. Previously there was no evidence and no witnesses that could finger Coulson. Now there is. So yes, there are grounds for re-opening this. This journalist could probably finger other participants.

tory boys never grow up said...

Call it hacking, tapping or whatever you want - the plain fact that it is wrong.

The other thing you should note is that the New York Times has some journalistic standards and does not print stories based on a single source as you can see from the extract from their article below. Perhaps once you can match the NYT's standards then your telling them where to go might have some credibility.

"But interviews with more than a dozen former reporters and editors at News of the World present a different picture of the newsroom. They described a frantic, sometimes degrading atmosphere in which some reporters openly pursued hacking or other improper tactics to satisfy demanding editors. Andy Coulson, the top editor at the time, had imposed a hypercompetitive ethos, even by tabloid standards. One former reporter called it a “do whatever it takes” mentality. The reporter was one of two people who said Coulson was present during discussions about phone hacking. Coulson ultimately resigned but denied any knowledge of hacking."

tory boys never grow up said...

"....ex News of the World journalist who was sacked by the paper for persistent drug and alcohol problems"

So of course we should never take the word of anyone who has had a drink problem. Does that standard apply to (14 pints) William Hague or Paul Staines, or Winston Churchill and Tony Blair for that matter??

Unsworth said...

@ Hampstead Owl

Literacy is not your strong point, is it? Please read my comments again and identify where exactly I have said anything about any enquiry 'clearing' Coulson. I'm not convinced Iain's comments do much more than that, either, but he can speak for himself.

The 'failure' (your view, I feel) by the police to prosecute may have been the result of a whole raft of considerations - none of which you or I might know, as you obviously understand. However, the police routinely carry out all sorts of investigations which come to nothing - some of these investigations actually are the result of malicious reports. Presumably in this instance you choose to believe there's no smoke without fire. That's a very common and particularly unwise position.

As to the quality of 'research' which the NYT may have indulged in - where's your evidence for this assessment? But, crucially, where is their new hard evidence? If there is any, no doubt the NYT will be passing it to the cops and/or the Select Committee. Strangely there have been no reports to date of that happening, so are the NYT journalists obstructing British justice?

Anyway, how is journalism 'invalidated'? For that matter what does the word mean? Are you somehow suggesting that journalists are bound by a legal and moral code to ensure that nothing they write is untruthful? I've had some pretty close dealings with journalists - and some of them on the News of the World. I can assure you that most of them would make great novelists - their 'journalism' often amounts to shabby fiction.

As to Cameron's position - well he's obviously made his calculations.

LibCync said...

"Hacking is about circumventing
security, not being presented with them and passing them."

I'd love to see you try that argument in a court of law, Iain!
(cf. McKinnon etc.)

tapestry said...

Alastair Campbell never once tapped any phones, or knew of any such events taking place. Even if he had done, it was for the cause of promoting and preserving New Labour, which is sufficient justification.

But for a Tory to know that things like this happen in journalism, that is illegal and impermissible at all times. All judges know that, or at least the ones appointed after 1997.

Matt said...

@ Sunder Katwala

Or...

5) He is a Tory, so he is obviously guilty. Of whatever it is someone said he might have done.

Matt said...

Alastair Campbell never once tapped any phones, or knew of any such events taking place. Even if he had done, it was for the cause of promoting and preserving New Labour, which is sufficient justification...

"The ends justify the means", "We were only following orders", "please adjust your dress before leaving" please add any other pointless platitudes as you see fit.

Good grief!

HampsteadOwl said...

@Unsworth

The thing I have noticed about you is that whenever somebody disagrees with you, you tell them it is because they are stupid in some way or another, rather than respecting an alternative point of view. You did it in your original reply to Sunder Katwala and now you are doing it to me.

I know I shouldn't rise to the bait, but I just can't let your slur on my "literacy" go unchallenged.

So far as I can tell, there are two reasons in your book why I might be illiterate. One is that I attributed a view to you that wasn't in what you wrote; and the second is that I don't know the meaning of the word "invalidate".

To take the second one first, what I wrote was that the fact that the NYT has a commercial rivalry with Rupert Murdoch does not "invalidate their journalism" - meaning (this is obvious from the context) the piece they wrote on the phone hacking scandal. You ask "how is journalism invalidated". Well I think that that a journalistic argument can easily be "rendered weak or ineffective" (how my dictionary defines invalidate) by a perceived or actual conflict of interest. I'm saying that in this case I don't think it has been - not your view maybe, but not, I think, an illiterate one.

Incidentally, you ask for my "evidence" that the NYT piece is well-researched. I don't have any other than from reading it and coming to a judgement about what it contains, based on (like you I am sure) having a read a lot of investigative and political journalism down the years. I could equally ask for your "evidence" that it's not.

As to the other leg of your charge, if it were the case that I had misunderstood what you were saying, then I think it would be a problem with my comprehension, rather than literacy, but leave that aside. As it is, I have re-read the penultimate paragraph of your comment and it is perfectly possible to see that you are citing the police investigation as an answer to what you obviously consider to be baseless and politically-motivated accusations against Andy Coulson. True, I lumped you in with Mr Dale who wrote more explicitly "the police investigated this and found that Coulson had nothing to answer for" (does this really not mean the same as "cleared" - please tell me how?), and if you aren't saying much the same thing as that, I think you should be clear about it, because your original comment certainly was not.

Evelyn Waugh, at the end of a protracted and peevish correspondence in the pages of the New Statesman with Hugh Trevor-Roper, concerning, among other things, the true meaning of the word "recusant", wrote "pray rest assured that this is the last letter I shall address to you on this subject. Any comment Mr Roper cares to make, I shall read with barely flagging interest, but leave unanswered". This now is where I am on this matter. I say as much only to try to comfort any other poor sods who might be reading this, and starting to lose the will to live.

And also because I see that I have now been 20 minutes writing this. Jeepers get a life.

Maino de Maineri said...

You seem very naive!

Woman on a Raft said...

It's unauthorized access within the meaning of computer mis-use, as brought in after the Gold, Schifreen case of the mid-1980s.

They also didn't hack, having come by passwords, and the case against them was quashed on appeal.

The legislation subsequently introduced made it an offence to make unauthorized access to a computer, even using the real password.

http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/a_to_c/computer_misuse_act_1990/#a04

Coulson's knowledge is the critical thing here because it establishes the intent necessary for various levels of charging. The penalties run from a fine to up to 10 years in prison.

Nick said...

Iain,

This suggest to me that either Coulson/NoW got something on you or you are in Murdoch's pocket!

Iain Dale said...

Don't be a prat. No one has got anything on me. Why is it thaat dome idiots always detect a malign motive when I write in defence of someone like this? It's ridiculous. I write what I write because I believe it. For no other reason.

Unsworth said...

@ Hampstead Owl

'Respect'? What on earth do you mean by that? Sunder Katwala put up an opinion, I disagreed with that view. You then jump in and put words in my mouth, I then tell you robustly to read what I have written - rather than what you would wish to think I have said. What's 'respect' got to do with it?

If you don't understand the difference between 'nothing to answer for' and 'cleared' you'd better stay away from anything to do with the law. In simple terms 'cleared' means tried/judged (over allegations) and found not guilty - as in exonerated. Now, as I recall, the cops don't carry out trials in the UK or do you know otherwise? 'Nothing to answer for' is Iain's choice of term (so you could actually ask him what he means) but which I take to mean that the cops believe there was no (or insufficient) evidence to make any form of case.

It seems you're now saying that the NYT article is journalistic argument - rather than the reporting of facts. Well any damn fool can put up an argument, can't they, even on the basis of these questionable 'facts'? What I question is the NYT's understanding and reporting of fact. But your view underlines the position - which is that these (supposedly principled and impervious) NYT 'journalists' are expressing opinion rather than reporting facts and allowing their readers to form opinions.

As to your dislike of my approach - ain't that just too bad? After all, this is the Internet, not a pretentious gentlemen's club, and life is too short to pussy-foot around. So let's have real and direct debate, rather than slavishly follow obscure social niceties of your particular choice.

I repeat, why should we pay any attention to what the NYT has to say over this matter? If it has new evidence it should immediately hand that material over to the UK authorities. How would the NYT react if the situation were reversed, do you suppose?

Ben H said...

"I write what I write because I believe it. For no other reason."

I have to sympathise with the conspiracy theorists here. It's so hard to believe that you really believe in Dizzy's imaginary distinction between "circumventing" security and "passing" security that it's tempting to look for a reason why you would publically promote it.

I mean, the practice is clearly illegal since Goodman and Mulcaire have already been convicted for it. Even Dizzy eventually comes to understand this in his comments. It's not clear what you mean by "things might not quite always be as they seem", but certainly, the voicemail interception was illegal.

The rest of your points in favour of Dale are:

1. He's good at his job - but that doesn't stop you breaking the law.

2. He was cleared in a previous investigation - but that is now being reviewed, which might indicate a faulty investigation.

3. He "took responsibility" - but he didn't admit complicity to the criminal interception, which is the question at stake now.

4. He's good at his job (again).

5. He's innocent until proven guilty. I think we can all agree on that, but it seems like his innocence or guilt should be resolved at a trial.

Five Chinese Crackers said...

You look a bit of a prat now, don't you?

Chardonnay Chap said...

If Coulson is proven guilty, what then? I imagine that, being the honourable and upstanding person you are, you will write an simple apology and admit that not all Coulson's accusers were "political opportunists who were part of [the last government]." Some are even part of the current government.

Yours, Dave Weeden (I hate hiding behind a pseudonym)