Burying bad news
4pm Update!! It turns out that Andy Coulson was at Chequers in March as the PM's guest. That's two months AFTER he resigned. That's a nugget well worth burying.
5.45pm: My old ally Paul Waugh has just blogged on the Coulson sleepover and on the Crackerjack timing of this disclosure.
STOP PRESS:::: Are they burying bad news already? I learn that No 10 are thinking of rushing out this afternoon a list of all David Cameron's meetings, business and social, that he has had since he became Prime Minister last May. An official No 10 spokesman says: "I cannot say either way at this stage."
It seems that within hours of Brooks sensationally quitting, they are rushing out a document that may reveal meetings with her, Murdoch and Murdoch jnr. Nothing on the Order Paper, no WMS, no mention of it at Lobby and on a non-sitting day. Last time one of these came out it was by a WMS.
Here's the original blog post:
It looks like they are already planning to bury bad news on "Super Tuesday" - the amazing day next week when Met chief Sir Paul Stephenson, elusive tycoon Rupert Murdoch, Rebekah Brooks and James Murdoch are all due to be questioned by MPs about phone hacking?
It seems that the Government is holding back piles of potentially embarrassing reports for publication just as the select committee get under way.
Among Whitehall documents that are due out before MPs start their summer holidays on Tuesday night are a list of meetings held by David Cameron with outsiders, which would show any official (though not necessarily social) contacts with News International chiefs or Mr Murdoch himself.
A list of the VIPs invited to dine at Chequers is also due, along with a record of gifts given to the Prime Minister and cabinet members over the past year. Details of ministerial travel and the bills run up for flights and hotels are also due.
All these documents, which are compiled by the Cabinet Office and No 10, are usually published by written ministerial statements, which means they must come out on Monday or Tuesday because the Commons won't sit again until September.
However, ESP has learned that they are not on the draft Order Paper for Monday indicating that all are currently scheduled to pour out in an avalanche of paperwork on Tuesday afternoon when MPs and journalists are looking the other way.
There's nothing new in this. There are nearly always some serious policy announcements concealed among dozens of written ministerial statements that splurge out on the last day of term.
But we all remember how outraged the Tories and Lib Dems were when former Labour spin doctor wrote on 9/11: "This is now a good day to bury bad news." Perhaps they could ease our suspicions by finding a way of to spread publication over several days during the recess.
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