Cameron prepares for Leveson with a spot of 'war-gaming'

Prime Minister appears before media ethics inquiry today and has been practicing his answers to some very tricky questions

Column LAST UPDATED AT 07:26 ON Thu 14 Jun 2012

DESPITE the awkward questions facing him about his close relations with the Murdoch empire, David Cameron has made sure he will give a polished performance at the Leveson inquiry this morning - he has been rehearsing his lines for his starring 'role' on the witness stand like an actor.

Cameron used to memorise his speeches for the Conservative Party conference so that he was word perfect and he has been doing the same with his answers when he takes the stand under oath at the Leveson inquiry.

He has been 'war-gaming' over the last two days with Andrew Feldman, a close friend from the Prime Minister's Oxford University days, who was made co-chairman of the Conservative party as a reward for campaigning for Cameron to become leader.

Feldman, a leading member of the Jewish business fraternity, has been acting the part of Leveson's QC, Robert Jay, to prepare Cameron for awkward questions about his friendship with Rebekah Brooks and his reasons for hiring Andy Coulson as his communications director.

He has also taken the advice of two leading lawyers at the taxpayers' expense, according to Daily Mail political hack, Tim Shipman, although they were not involved in 'prepping' the PM. They are Paul Jenkins, the Treasury solicitor, and an unnamed QC.

Cameron will face a full day of questioning about his close relationship with the red-headed former chief executive of News International, Rebekah Brooks, part of the Chipping Norton set, who appeared in court yesterday charged with perverting the course of justice.

He will be asked why he felt it appropriate to ride the ex-Metropolitan Police horse with her while the bid for BSkyB was going on, and why he sent friendly text messages to Brooks ending in 'LOL' for Lots of Love, until she pointed out it meant 'Laugh Out Loud'.

Cameron will also face more difficult questions about the reasons behind his decision to hire Andy Coulson as his director of communications, even though the former News of the World editor was mired by the hacking scandal.

Jay is certain to ask Cameron whether he hired Coulson in the hope of doing a deal with the Murdoch titles. Was the green light for the BSkyB bid supposed to be the pay-off for securing the support of The Sun at the general election?

There is also a difficult conflict of evidence that Cameron will have to explain. Cameron told the Commons he had asked Coulson for assurances many times that he knew nothing about hacking, but Coulson has told the Leveson inquiry he was asked only once.

Shipman reckons that Cameron will admit he blundered over the handling of the BSkyB bid by Jeremy Hunt. Yesterday he told MPs that he had written to Sir Alex Allan, his independent adviser on the ministerial code, asking for advice on the way quasi-judicial decisions are handled in the future.

As the Mole reported yesterday, one option being floated at Westminster is for the decision to be taken out of the hands of ministers and handed to the Cabinet Secretary instead.

Cameron will also say he will tighten the guidelines for ministerial special advisers to avoid a repetition of the excessive inside information given to Murdoch's European lobbyist, Fred Michel, by Hunt's 'spad', Adam Smith.

Smith was sacked for his trouble. Many thought then that Hunt was using him as his human shield to avoid himself being forced to resign.
Now Cameron is being accused of using Hunt to shield himself from the mud being thrown about over the downfall of his friends inside the Murdoch security fencing at Wapping. ·