Thursday, July 23, 2009

Andy Coulson: MPs and Police Should Demand Accounting Records

A Steve Bell cartoon that begs for a caption/speech bubble competition. Start thinking of the things those Tories would like YOU and the electorate to forget. Perhaps John Harris's very real horror at a scantily dressed Max Clifford will inspire?

Peter Burden thinks that they might want you to forget the NOTW body language at that hearing. And that Water Boarding may be called for to get their random access memory running correctly. Peter also thinks that there is no paper trail left to pin on Amnesiac Coulson and his Crones. I disagree:

There is another paper trail, or two. One which MP Mike Hall alluded to. After repeating the truism that one should not put in an email what one does not want to see on the cover of the NOTW.

The trail of payments to Glenn Mulcaire, his companies, and his rivals. Was it not Plaid Cymru MP Adam Price who questioned Scuttler on those £75 credits to various bin divers for sourcing ex-Directory Numbers, and 'phone to address and other such naughtiness? Clearly these will not be generated only on stories by the Crime Correspondent in Waiting.

A paper trail, possibly a partial one, but a paper trail nonetheless, does exist in the form of the NOTW ledger listing all the payments, in theory the cash ones as well as the cheques and the BACS, generally with a short narrative on each, sometiems with the tags of the stories, sometimes with the journo's names.

When I get (very small, and alas rather infrequent) payments from News Group or GNL or whatever the pro forma invoices include certain elements. typically:

Date / Pub / Ref / Type (e.g. Text or Pic or Research) / Story Tag / Commissioner / Value / and VAT etc.

The document gives my supplier number and also the details of the bank account to which it was paid, as it's BACS.

For the period in question there also ought to be a whole series of returns to HMRC and predecessors covering all individuals and entities who were given "not taxed at source" payments.

This latter also has the advantage of not being in the possession of News Group. Though it may have far less narrative. I can't be sure of that. I am not a tax man! It could certainly reveal the level and timing of payments to any individual or entity in any tax year.

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