Coulson and Brooks trial set to cloud Cameron's fortunes

Cameron can't spin against his former spin doctor - CPS warned against saying anything prejudicial

Column LAST UPDATED AT 12:50 ON Tue 24 Jul 2012

DAVID CAMERON's advisers fear that today's news that phone hacking charges are being laid against his former chief mouthpiece Andy Coulson could prove highly damaging to the Prime Minister.

Until the 11am announcement from CPS legal adviser Alison Levitt QC, Downing Street had done all they could to isolate Cameron from the fall-out from the hacking scandal.

Cameron told the Leveson inquiry that he had asked for specific assurances from Coulson that he was not involved in hacking before hiring the former News of the World editor as his director of communications while Cameron was still in Opposition.

Confirming Coulson in the role at Downing Street when Cameron came to power - despite rumours of the scandal about to engulf the Murdoch empire - was seen as a massive misjudgment by the Prime Minister and yet more evidence of Tory attempts to curry favour with Murdoch executives.

Cameron told the Commons that if Coulson turned out to have lied then it would be a reason for an apology. But it has gone way beyond apologies now.

The charges against Rebekah Brooks will revive the controversy within the coalition over Cameron's closeness to the News International chief executive - the ride on the horse she borrowed from the Metropolitan Police and the cringe-making emails they shared, including one from Brooks saying "Yes you Cam".

The trial is now destined to hang over Cameron like a black cloud in the run-up to the general election. It could take another year to come to court and could then run for weeks or months, turning 2013 into an annus horribilis for Cameron - just when he hoped to be concentrating in hauling back a ten-point deficit in the polls against Ed Miliband's Labour Party.

Joey Jones, Sky News deputy political editor, said Downing Street is hoping that Cameron will escape damage but that could be "optimistic". The Mole agrees. Perhaps the worst thing for Cameron is that he can't spin against his former spin doctor. The CPS warned against saying anything that would prejudice a fair trial.

But look on the bright side, Dave. This morning's announcement from Alison Levitt allowed Jeremy Hunt, the Culture Secretary, to bury more embarrassing news about the Olympics security fiasco. As my fellow Westminster digger Paul Waugh tweeted: 'So. 11am, phonehacking charges unveiled. 11am, Hunt reveals 1,200 more troops called up for Olympics #buryingbadnews' ·