Daily Archives: July 21, 2011

Jim Pickard

We brought you fresh details this morning of Nick Raynsford’s claims that a former government figure believed he was the victim of black arts.

Mr Raynsford, Labour MP for Greenwich & Woolwich, today demanded a meeting with David Cameron to discuss allegations of “phone hacking, covert surveillance and hostile media briefing” against the unnamed former government official last year.

My understanding is that the official is Tim Byles, former chief executive of Partnerships for Schools, who was last summer blamed by the education department after some schools were assured building projects were safe, only to find that they had been scrapped. Read more >>

Jim Pickard

By chance I was reading “Stick It Up Your Punter”, a book about the Sun – and one of the best ever written about British journalism – when the story broke about Neil Wallis’s arrest.

The book has several anecdotes about him: Read more >>

Jim Pickard

One of the most curious lines to emerge yesterday was the suggestion that a senior civil servant had his phone hacked since the last election. Nick Raynsford, a former Labour minister, said in the Commons that there appeared to have been “disgraceful and illegal conduct close to the heart of government” – a strong claim indeed.

He told Mr Cameron:

“A year ago during the period when Mr Coulson was director of communications, the Cabinet Secretary was alerted to evidence of illegal phone hacking, covert surveillance and hostile media briefing directed against a senior official in the Government service.”

The prime minister said he would examine the allegations.

It was suggested that there was a face-to-face meeting between the anonymous official from the Department of Education and Sir Gus O’Donnell, cabinet secretary, where the Read more >>

Jim Pickard

Nick Clegg is playing the loyal deputy in his press conference and resisting any temptation to distance himself from David Cameron.

The prime minister’s big mistake yesterday was to dodge question after question about whether he had discussed the BSkyB bid with executives from News International. His reply – that he had not had any “inappropriate” chats – hinted strongly of conversations, albeit “appropriate” ones. (Because the PM had removed himself from the decision-making process on the bid.) On 11 occasions he supplied the same evasive answer.

According to Clegg this issue is “semantic and irrelevant”. Others would strongly disagree. Read more >>