Leading article: Keep dodging, Prime Minister

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The Independent Online

For a normal organisation, hiring a normal member of staff, the details of a severance package from their previous employer would not be a matter for inquiry. But the leader of the Conservative Party, as David Cameron then was, is not a normal employer. And Andy Coulson – recently resigned from the News of the World after one of his staff was jailed for phone hacking – was no normal appointment.

Regardless of what details emerge as to News International's usual severance agreements, the revelation that Mr Coulson was still on the (very generous) Murdoch payroll after he started as the Tory head of communications in 2007 looks bad for the Prime Minister.

The suggestion that Mr Cameron might not have known of the arrangements does little to improve the situation. At best it adds weight to allegations of imprudence and sloppy procedure. At worst, it fuels suspicions of questions deliberately not asked, in order not to know the answer.

Mr Cameron has had to dodge hard to avoid the sprays of dirt from the phone-hacking scandal. With each revelation, the questions about his judgement become more pressing and the fancy footwork harder to pull off.