Leading article: Justice has not yet been done

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The Independent Online

John Humphrys is normally as forensic an interviewer as they come. But the veteran broadcaster's powers seemed to fail him when questioning David Cameron yesterday about the position of Downing Street's head of communications, Andy Coulson.

"There's a danger" said the Prime Minister, "that he's effectively being punished twice for the same offence." Yet what was that offence? Mr Cameron did not elaborate, and Mr Humphrys did not press the Prime Minister. The nature of the offence is the very heart of the matter. Mr Coulson resigned as editor of the News of the World in 2007 because illegal phone hacking had taken place at the paper. Mr Coulson argued that he did not approve the practice, or even know of it. However, evidence has come to light that casts doubt on that. Mr Cameron also said of Mr Coulson, "I gave him a second chance." That makes it sound as if he spent some lengthy period in the wilderness before being rescued by Christian charity. In fact, Mr Coulson was appointed the Conservative Party's communications chief less than six months after leaving the News of the World.

When it comes to the phone hacking scandal, the impression is mounting that justice has not been done. That is the point Mr Humphrys really ought to have put to the Prime Minister yesterday.

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