David Cameron’s claim at PMQs that Gus O’Donnell had been asked at Leveson about whether he had offered any warnings on the hiring of Andy Coulson, was met with bafflement. But O’Donnell’s written submission does address this point.
Question 30 – Please set out in full for the inquiry details of your role, if any, in relation to the appointment by the Prime Minster of Andy Coulson to a post in No.10. Your account should include a full explanation of the basis on which you were asked to advise.
Mr Coulson was brought in as a special adviser to the Prime Minister. I was not involved in the process of appointing Mr Coulson. Mr Coulson was cleared to SC (security clearance) level and was undergoing DV (developed vetting) clearance at the time of his resignation.
Now, this does not prove that O’Donnell didn’t privately suggest that hiring Coulson was a bad idea. But it does show that O’Donnell, who had retired as Cabinet Secretary by this point, did not have anything that he wanted to get off his chest about the matter. If warnings he had given on the matter had been ridden roughshod over, you would expect him to mention that in answer to this question. Indeed, O’Donnell’s declaration that he was ‘not involved in the process of appointing Mr Coulson’ suggests that there were no detailed conversations between Cameron and O’Donnell on this points.