By Ray Fleming

DAVID Cameron could have done without this. Yesterday afternoon, as he grappled with the fall-out from last week's riots and looting, an explosive letter written in March 2007 was made public which appears to override all the evidence so far given by News International senior staff about the degree of awareness about phone-hacking at the News of the World.

In scandals of this kind it sometimes turns out that the cover-up becomes a more serious matter than the initial offence and it is beginning to look as if this may prove to be true in this case.

The letter was written by Clive Goodman, formerly the newspaper's royal editor, who had just served a prison sentence for phone-hacking a royal source.
In it he complained that he had been dismissed for “gross misconduct” despite the fact that the practice of phone-hacking had been regularly discussed at editorial conferences attended by senior staff until explicit reference to it was banned by the editor -- believed to be Andy Coulson who subsequently was appointed by David Cameron as his communications advisor and continued in that role at Downing Street. If Mr Goodman's allegation is correct the protestations by Mr Coulson and by James Murdoch and others that they knew nothing of phone-hacking at the News of the World will be very difficult indeed to sustain.

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