Village People: Coulson legacy of distrust

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Indy Politics

It did not go unnoticed that on the day that the royal engagement filled the air waves, the Government announced several bits of bad news, including the decision to take David Cameron's court photographer off the Civil Service payroll, which Tory spin doctors have been accused of trying to bury.

But this may be a case where the spin doctors are genuinely as innocent as they say they are, because it appears they really did not know what was coming until less than an hour before the public announcement. There is a reason why the young couple might not have wanted Downing Street to be tipped off in advance, because it is where Andy Coulson works.

The couple gave their first exclusive interview to ITN's Political Editor, Tom Bradby. When Bradby was a royal correspondent, in November 2005, The 'News of the World', under Coulson's editorship, hacked into a phone message between him and the Prince. This set off the police investigation that led to Coulson's resignation. A big royal event such as a wedding is usually a matter for close co-operation between Downing Street and the Palace, but if the Prince does not trust the Prime Minister's Director of Communication, there may be problems ahead.

Peers plan to hang on

Yesterday's announcement of 54 new political peers is going to add to complaints that with an average of 424 peers milling about every working day, the House of Lords is already overcrowded. This week, they discussed possible resignations of less active peers, but the 13th Earl Ferrers, who has been a member of the Lords for 56 years, was having none of that.

When someone is made a peer, he pointed out, they have a patent from the Queen telling them they are elevated to their "state, degree, style, dignity and honour... to have and hold unto him for life".

The Ferrars take that instruction seriously. The fourth Earl was sentenced to death for murdering a servant, but he remained a member of the Lords, until the silk rope snapped his neck.