Monday, October 28, 2013

David Cameron’s elder brother heads the Chambers defending Rebekah Brooks – does it matter?

In life, especially in politics, nothing should surprise us. But the sheer crassness of the Cameron family’s acquiescence in the fact that the Prime Minister’s elder brother Alexander (pictured) heads the Barrister’s chambers briefed with the defence of Rebekah Brooks is staggering.

Alex Cameron is not directly in the loop in Mrs Brooks defence - it is his barrister colleagues who will be presenting her case in Court. But it’s hard to buy the line that he is completely uninvolved. Commonsense would say that in a case as high profile as this one many observers would assume that it would be discussed informally in the Chambers and that Alex Cameron would be involved in some of these discussions. This is speculation of course, but the alternative involving unscaleable Chinese walls at Three Raymond Buildings Chambers is rather too incredible to take seriously.

The origins of the case against Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks were in the pair’s close relationship with David Cameron. Coulson was selected by Cameron to be his Director of Communications and the Brooks family are  personal friends. Mrs Brooks husband Charlie was a close friend of Cameron’s at Eton. There is arguably nothing disreputable about David Cameron’s friendship with the Brooks’ – though many would agree that if you really want to know someday you should look at who they choose as their friends! And Cameron’s choice of Coulson was “just” a bad misjudgement rather than anything more sinister. Probably.

David Cameron has been damaged by the Phone-hacking scandal in part because it was some of his chosen friends and associates who were involved. There is a pall of rancid air hanging around the whole business which one hopes the court proceedings will clear away – one way or the other. But the charge that has been made against Cameron is that his privileged “set” in North Oxfordshire, of which the Brooks were part, is a sort of mutual support group of privileged “toffs” some of whom may have thought that they were above the law. This is probably unfair but the point is that we are talking about perceptions. Perceptions are reality because people believe them to be true.

So when the Director of Public Prosecutions decided that Rebekah Brooks had a case to answer David Cameron had to decide what he should do. Obviously he could not be seen to be involved in the case, and certainly not in the defence of Mrs Brooks. Indeed for him to make any comments about it, given his position, could have been seen to be prejudicial. And the management of perceptions was equally important. The charge, unfair or not, that David Cameron’s association with the Brooks family in some way conflicts him is one that many would make. So as far as the trial is concerned he has to be perceived to be squeaky clean! The fact that his brother heads the Chambers within which Mrs Brooks defence barrister works is emphatically not that. Remember you do not need to charge that anything improper has occurred or will occur at Three Raymond Buildings. You don't need to charge that David and Alex Cameron have had late night discussions over a bottle of Single Malt about how Mrs Brooks can be acquitted. You don't have to make any such charges. All you have to do is to assess how the public perception of the fact of Alex Cameron's “involvement” will play. And my guess is that it will play very badly.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home