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News, gossip and insight from PoliticsHome Editor Paul Waugh

Who will be Cameron's Hutton?

As a keen student of the Blair memoirs, David Cameron must be tempted right now to reach for a Lord Hutton-style figure to oversee an inquiry into phone hacking.

However, unlike the David Kelly case, there is the possibility of outstanding criminal proceedings and he is determined to say that the police investigation must be allowed to run its course.

In a Downing Street lobby briefing just now, the PM's spokeswoman said that the Government will be supporting the Chris Bryant motion today.

That in itself is meaningless, as the motion only says the House should 'consider' the case for an inquiry. It does not actually call for an inquiry. All No.10 are doing, so far, is saying it's right this should be debated.

But I get the strong feeling that the PM is going to announce that once the police have done their business, a full inquiry can begin. Maybe he will announce it in PMQs to spike the guns of Ed Miliband, with the Attorney General following up in the formal response to the debate later.

The actual details of the inquiry - should it be 'judicial' or just a 'public' inquiry or a hybrid version like Hutton's and Chilcot's? - will be interesting. There must be a ready-made judge who can oversee all of this and his name will become synonymous with the whole topic.

Downing Street have been in extensive discussions about just this and the cops will have to have been consulted. The Met has perhaps just as much to lose as the politicians given the way it handled this whole affair.

Either way, any form of inquiry could be seen as a real victory for Miliband, Watson and Bryant.

There's one other nugget from No.10: it looks like the PM has wisely decided not to dump on Andy Coulson.

His spokeswoman said that Mr Cameron 'stands by' his remarks in January that he was "extremely proud" of the work of his former comms director.

That will be a relief to Coulson, who I understand is feeling that his role is being used by NI to deflect attention from its other bigger troubles on Milly, Soham and now 7/7.

As an aside, I also note that Yvette Cooper will be leading for the Opposition in the debate today, despite the fact that the Government have decided to replace the Home Secretary with the Attorney General for its response. Big moment for Cooper.

 

UPDATE: Well, looks like I was right. Cameron did indeed use PMQs to announce he would set up an "inquiry or inquiries" into the various aspects of this.

No.10 sources say it's "not necessarily" the case that a judge will chair the inquiry.

When asked if the PM had quizzed Andy Coulson about the hacking issue on his appointment, sources added: "He sought and he got those assurances."

 

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