Andy Coulson and the News International severance payments

I have a feeling that the Labour Party will have a good try here: also, that they\’ll not get very far:

A series of severance payments were made to former News of the World editor Andy Coulson for several months after he began working for the Tories, according to the BBC.

The instalments totalled the full entitlement under his two-year contract as editor of the now defunct tabloid which was published by New International, the BBC claimed.

His severance package also included continued access healthcare as well as keeping hold of his company car, the corporation said.

At first blush, so, he had severance payments? We can find examples of this all over the public sector can\’t we? MPs get them when they lose an election, Ministers when they lose office and there are any number of council fat cats who get £100k, £200k in redundancy while they pick up another job or a rich consultancy.

Shrug.

However, the killer to my mind is Peter Mandelson. He was receiving payments from the European Union while he was a government minister. You know, a minister of our government in the pay of a foreign government?

Yes, sure, it was part of his severance package, he got, for the three years after he stopped being a Commissioner, his pay topped up from whatever it was to whatever it would have been had he remained a Commissioner. So while he was on £112,000 as a Minister in the Lords he got a futher €75,000 or so a year out of the EU.

This despite the rules which state that a Minister should have no outside income, except in very specific circumstances. And if he does have such, the Minister should recuse himself from even discussion, let alone decision mkaing, on matter affecting where he gets that outside income from.

So, political advisor gets severance package from former employers. Minister getting severance package from foreign government while being a minister.

Going to be tough to attack the first without being attacked on the second really.

If I were in the Tory press office that\’s what I\’d be snarling to people anyway.

3 thoughts on “Andy Coulson and the News International severance payments”

  1. Not a chance of that flag flying. Coulson seems to have – at the minimum – mispoke to some select committee or other (Tom Watson has it online) and the Conservatives seem to have claimed he was not receiving any money from NI.

    So, hidden payments from the agents of Sauron – not good. Declared pension from our EU brethren – no problem

  2. well, hmm … the report is that Coulson “quit” his job, but then continued to receive “severance payments” for some considerable time afterwards. I rather doubt his employers were legally obliged to continue paying someone who has resigned their post. That would be odd. But if the payments were discretionary, that does indeed raise questions about legitimate and illegitimate influence.

    In Mandelson’s case, I havent checked the details, but I suspect payments to him were simply in line with standard Commission rules (whether one likes them or not) and therefore not discretionary. In which case the issue of legitimate/illegitimate influence does not really arise in the same way.

  3. @ Doug
    Normally when someone leaves and is entitled (under the terms of a contract written by the head-hunter rather than the shareholders) to two years salary they get it as a lump sum BUT if News International chose to save money by reducing the interest paid on their overdraft through paying by instalments Coulson had no legal grounds to complain.
    Now, if someone asked you if you have any earnings, would you include the lump sum redundancy/loss of office payment that you got 9 months ago in lieu of the year’s notice to which you were entitled? Well, would you?
    Tom Watson is, as always, being disingenuous. Coulson was not being paid by NI for anything he was doing while working for the Conservatives. He might as well complain about someone who has a pension from a fully-funded pension fund. This was not earnings – it was instalment payments of a debt!
    The people who *can* complain are Cameron and CCHQ – the press stories imply that Coulson lied to them, but not to the House of Commons committee.

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