Editorial: Only total transparency will do, Prime Minister

Related Topics

If there is one thing the Prime Minister should learn from the latest revelations about his text message exchanges with Rebekah Brooks, it is that suspicions about their unpublished communications are not going to go away. However harmless, however innocent the content, the drip-drip of such missives into the public domain will be interpreted as evidence that there is more, and that somewhere there lurks damaging information that is being deliberately concealed.

On the face of it, the texts published yesterday do not tell anyone anything that is not already known: that David Cameron and Mrs Brooks were friends who enjoyed the sort of cheerful banter that friends typically enjoy. Nor does Mrs Brooks's lavish praise for his conference speech have to be interpreted as anything more than flattery from an ally. There is nothing politically sensitive here, beyond further evidence of their country-supper relations.

It is common knowledge that Mr Cameron and Mrs Brooks's husband had known each other since their schooldays; known, too – from the couldn't-make-it-up saga of Raisa the retired police horse – that Mr Cameron and Mrs Brooks socialised in the Oxfordshire countryside where they both lived. They were neighbours as well as friends. And while their relationship, at a time when Mr Cameron was rising to become Leader of the Opposition and Mrs Brooks to become chief executive of Rupert Murdoch's News International, may have been useful to both, there need have been nothing untoward.

Suspicions persist for two reasons. The first is Mr Cameron's tendency to memory lapses – such as whether he had ridden Raisa – over his communications with Mrs Brooks. The second is that, as The Independent disclosed two weeks ago, Mr Cameron withheld private emails between himself and Mrs Brooks from the Leveson Inquiry after taking personal legal advice.

There are thus two separate caches of Cameron-Brooks communications. There is one that has been provided to Leveson – where publication reflects the judgement of the counsel to the inquiry about what is pertinent. Then there is a separate cache that the Prime Minister was reportedly advised he did not need to submit. The very existence of this second cache suggests – rightly or wrongly – that there is material that the Prime Minister very much wants to keep to himself. It also suggests that he has thus pre-empted a judgement that was perhaps for the inquiry to make.

Now it may be that none of this adds to what has already been published; that the messages really are strictly personal or merely corroborate the evidence of a friendship between the Leader of the Opposition and the head of News International that was, advisedly, placed on a more formal footing when Mr Cameron became Prime Minister. Or could they hint at something else? An unseemly professional cosiness, say, at a time when Mr Murdoch's News Corp was trying to take control of BSkyB?

The only way for the Prime Minister to dispel the suspicions is for him to release all the material in its entirety. If privacy is a concern, he could do this initially via a judicial third party. But the issue, at root, is trust, and Mr Cameron has only his own secretiveness to blame for the fact that his claims to openness are not fully believed.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Application Support Analyst (SQL, Incident Management, SLAs)

£34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Embedded Software / Firmware Engineer

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...

Developer - WinForms, C#

£280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron's 'compassionate conservatism' is now lying on its back  

Tory modernisation has failed under David Cameron

Michael Dugher
Russian President Vladimir Putin 'hits his foes where it hurts'  

Dominic Raab: If Western politicians’ vested interests protect Putin, take punishment out of their hands

Dominic Raab
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform