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It’s not Hunt’s neck that’s now on the line, it’s Cameron’s

The evidence revealing the inappropriately close relationship between Cameron and News International in the run-up to the BSkyB bid gathered pace in the last two days with the appearance of Coulson and Brooks before Leveson. First, there was Cameron’s insouciance about hiring Coulson to No.10 without thorough checks on what he may have known about phone-hacking at the News of the World where he had been editor, even when the Guardian later indicated in 2009 that phone hacking at the tabloid was rife. This suggests that the Prime Minister was so determined to get as close as possible to the Murdoch outfit that he was quite ready to gloss over any embarrassing details that might incriminate Coulson, and never raised the subject with him more than once even while the hacking saga was steadily unfolding.

The further revelation that Coulson was given only low-level security vetting, unlike his predecessors, yet on his own admission may have been given unsupervised access to top-secret documents confirms that he was exempted from proper security checks which might well have disqualified him because Cameron was determined to take him on no matter what, in order to consolidate his closeness to a media empire which he helived could keep the Tories in power for a long time.

The Brooks evidence takes this relationship still closer. It emerges that she typically texted Cameron once a week, doubling to twice a week during the 2010 election campaign, and that he signed off his texts to her with DC or sometimes LOL. She also revealed that Frederic Michel, the News International lobbyist, had emailed her that “JH has asked me to advise him privately in the coming weeks and guide his and No.10′s positioning”. Hunt has tried to pass off the entirely implausible story that all these incriminating emails referred purely to Adam Smith, his special adviser. The much more interesting question is whether not only Hunt was engaging in this illicit back-channel to the bidder, but that he was also keeping Cameron informed of every step along the way of this saga as it approached a climax.

When this is also combined with the evidence now slowly being revealed about the frequency of meetings between Cameron and Brooks when the BSkyB bid was hotting up and the PM would be expected to keep his distance to dispel any suggestion of collusion, a clear pattern of inappropriate familiarity is beginning to emerge. Brooks admits she saw Cameron at least twice over Christmas 2010 in Oxfordshire, having already met him at least 5 times earlier in the year. It’s not just Cameron’s judgement that is at risk, its his whole position that must now be questioned.

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