Editorial: Only total transparency will do, Prime Minister

Share
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from the latest revelations about his text message exchanges with Rebekah Brooks, it is that suspicions about their unpublished communications are not going to go away.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

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Ashdown Group: Lead Web Developer (ASP.NET, C#) - City of London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: Science versus religion in the three-parent baby debate

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Kylie has helped to boost viewing figures for the talent show  

When an Aussie calls you a ‘bastard’, you know you’ve arrived

Howard Jacobson
Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee