(with apologies to Spike Milligan)
Andy Coulson, the Spin King is dead. Brought down by ‘The Guardian’ and others over his failure to contain the story of who hacked what phones and for how long when he was the ‘News of the World’ editor. Last Friday, David Cameron’s Director of Communications at Number 10 Downing Street finally bit the bullet and, after months of story after story about him, decided that ,as he put it ‘when the spokesman needed a spokesman it is time to go!’ Coulson is no more the chief spinmeister in the court of the Prime Minister whose only real job has been as a… spinmeister. Irony. Garrotted by their own web.
I played a tiny part in the fall of Andy C. Tiny. I run the Coventry Conversations at Coventry University (www.coventry.ac.uk/coventryconversations). Each week a serious media mover and shaker comes to talk on the record to students, staff and real people. On November 25th last year the Conversationalist was David Yelland, ex Editor of ‘The Sun’ now a PR man but most importantly an alum of the Lanchester Polytechnic which preceded Cov Uni. Yelland was(and is) a big fish and had taken a lot of landing-three years of pleading by email. He was ‘back home’ so unloaded himself honestly about his life, his alcoholism (which started in Cov),his alopecia, Rupert Murdoch and much more. Much close to the knuckle stuff. Our journalism students were live blogging and live tweeting him(cutoday,wordpress.com/#covcons2010). Towards the end of the hour I threw him a soft ball about Andy Coulson(who was his number three on ‘The Sun’ and whom he knew very well)and him claiming to not know about the activities of Glenn Mulcaire whom his paper paid £100,000 a year to hack into the mobile phones of what it now emerges was hundreds of people-celebrities,sports stars,royalty- to get a story or two.Yelland was quick and ruthless ‘ As an editor, I can’t believe a fellow editor would not know phone tapping was in action, especially with the rumoured remuneration of £100,000 to a private detective . Anything more than £1000 would have to be signed off by someone in deep carpet land. It would be impossible for anyone at News International to not know what was going on” he stated clearly. Writes John Mair…
With one or two phrases Yelland had destroyed the ‘single rogue reporter defence’ which Andy Coulson,Rebekah Wade and the rest of News International ‘deep carpet land’ were using to deflect the attacks on their journalistic ethics from Press and Parliament. It simply no longer washed.
These things have habit of spreading beyond Coventry. News does. It went to journalism.co.uk(thanks to a piece by me blogs.journalism.co.uk/…/former-sun-editor-expresses-doubt-over-andy-coulsons-phone-hacking-denials) and within a day that comment had been picked up by no less a super Twitterer than Alan Rusbridger, Editor in Chief of the ‘Guardian’ and ‘Observer’( and tormentor in chief to Coulson and Wade on this story) and from him to Nick Davies the paper’s ace investigator who had driven the Coulson story (Former Sun editor David Yelland “can’t believe” Andy Coulson didn’t know about phone-hacking. http://tinyurl.com/35w62b8 Nov 25, 2010 9 retweet ) and then to media commentator Roy Greenslade in his Guardian column replete with a jibe or two at the editorial abilities of Yelland. Yelland on Coulson was now ‘out there’ a small blast of oxygen provided by Coventry to keep the fire under Coulson’s rear burning. A colleague said to me after Yelland had left the Conversation ‘If you report what he said about Coulson you could cost Andy his job’. As I said at the time ’Good’. Prescient. Small ripples to help the Tsunami that eventually consumed Coulson.Small but effective. Adieu Andy.
John Mair invented and runs the Coventry Conversations at Coventry University.This week Andy Kershaw and Chris ‘Starsucker’Atkins are coming to Converse on Thursday and Friday 27/28th January