Phone hacking: No-one will laughing out loud, but damage should be limited for Cameron
For David Cameron, that infamous “LOL” text to Rebekah Brooks might have seemed bad enough.
But yesterday’s news that she and Andy Coulson are to face criminal charges has prompted a fresh frenzy of speculation about what the political consequences might be for the Prime Minister. I would argue the damage will be limited.
Embarrassment, yes. An excuse for his opponents to enjoy a few pot-shots at his expense? Probably.
But long-term serious political damage? I doubt it.
To focus on that is to miss the point and let the real issue go unaddressed.
Let’s not forget that there has never been any suggestion of impropriety in Downing Street.
And this should not be about whether David Cameron was wrong to give an obviously talented media operator the benefit of the doubt.
To take the same risk that any employer takes when they give someone a second chance.
Neither should it be about whether he was mistaken in his choice of friends. We’ve all been guilty of that.
This is an issue about alleged criminal activity at the heart of one of our biggest and most influential media organisations.
The arguments over David Cameron’s judgment in employing Andy Coulson and maintaining a friendship with Rebekah Brooks have been well rehearsed over the past 18 months or so in newspapers, in parliament and at the Leveson inquiry.
The Prime Minister has apologised and acknowledged that his judgment may have been mistaken.
But he and Downing Street will now have to endure a lengthy trial process with the same mix of emotions any of us would have seeing a friend or former colleague face criminal charges
We would not expect to be judged by what that person may have done before we were associated with them. Should the Prime Minister be different?
• Christine Jardine is a political analyst and former adviser to the Liberal Democrats.
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