Phone hacking: Andy Coulson ‘helped spin story of George Osborne and dominatrix’

Andy Coulson helped “spin” a story about George Osborne’s past links to a drug-taking dominatrix, preventing severe damage to his political career, it has been claimed

George Osborne, Natalie Rowe and Andy Coulson: Photo: REX FEATURES/GETTY

A lawyer for Natalie Rowe, the former boss of an escort agency, has suggested that Mr Coulson’s treatment of the story may have been linked to his subsequent appointment as David Cameron’s communications chief.

It emerged earlier this year that Mr Osborne had played a key role in recruiting Mr Coulson to work as the Tories’ media advisor after he resigned from the tabloid over phone hacking in 2007.

The appointment rehabilitated Mr Coulson’s career, and he went on to become the Downing Street communications chief after the Coalition came to power last year.

But he stepped down from that role before being arrested as part of the Scotland Yard investigation into phone hacking at the newspaper he once edited.

The controversy over his appointment as David Cameron’s Downing Street spin chief has been reignited, however, after Miss Rowe, the former head of an escort agency called Black Beauties, gave an interview with the Australian state broadcaster, the ABC.

She used the interview to repeat earlier claims that she witnessed the man who is now Chancellor taking drugs.

When those allegations were first published, Mr Osborne dismissed them as a slur. He said Miss Rowe was a casual acquaintance whom he barely knew.

Last month Miss Rowe disclosed that she had been contacted by the Metropolitan Police team investigating phone hacking at the News of the World and told that she may have been targeted.

Miss Rowe, now 47, came to prominence in October 2005 when she sold a story to the Sunday Mirror about her friendship with Mr Osborne in his early 20s.

A photograph showed her with her arm around him sitting at a table with what she claims was paper used to snort cocaine in front of them.

It was published at a time when Mr Osborne was managing David Cameron’s campaign to become the Conservative leader and their background was under intense media scrutiny.

Using the name Jennifer Shackleton, she described Mr Osborne as “the straight one of the bunch” compared to his friends and emphasised that he never attended sex parties she hosted.

She went on: “He would do lines but didn’t go crazy like the rest of them did.”

Mr Osborne has described claims that he took drugs with Miss Rowe as “defamatory and completely untrue”.

He accepts that he knew Miss Rowe but said they met only occasionally, when one of his university friends, who was a drug addict, was going out with her.

On the day Miss Rowe’s “exclusive” interview appeared in the Sunday Mirror, its arch rival The News of the World ran the story as well.

It was accompanied by an editorial emphasising how Mr Osborne totally condemned drugs.

The tabloid, then edited by Mr Coulson, quoted him as describing his drug addict friend’s experience as a “stark lesson at a young age of the destruction which drugs bring to so many lives”.

The News of the World version was seen as a “spoiler” to the Sunday Mirror scoop and Miss Rowe assumed the News of the World had been tipped off a “spy” in her “camp”.

Despite the fact that Mr Coulson’s newspaper had published the allegations about George Osborne, the two men later enjoyed a cordial relationship.

It emerged recently that the Chancellor had even played a key role in recruiting Mr Coulson for the Conservatives.

Mark Lewis, Miss Rowe’s lawyer, discussed the ‘downplaying’ by the News of the World of the earlier story about Mr Osborne, in an interview with Australia’s ABC television, accompanying Miss Rowe’s remarks.

He said: “The editor at the time was Andy Coulson, and I think that’s worth remembering because of the future relationship that we have between the Conservative Party, the Prime Minister and Andy Coulson.”

He believes that without Mr Coulson’s help Mr Osborne’s career could have been more seriously damaged by the original story.

“The editorial (in the News of the World) could have been written the other way,” he said.

“And if it would have been written the other way it would have finished his career I’m sure.”

He added: “The decision on which spin to give to the story by the editor of the News of the World particularly was something that determined his future in politics.”

Following the 2005 stories Mr Osborne issued a statement denying Miss Rowe’s claims.

He said: “The allegations are completely untrue and dredging up a photo from when I was 22 years old is pretty desperate stuff.

“This is merely part of a smear campaign to divert attention from the issues that matter in this leadership contest and I am confident people will not be distracted by this rubbish.

“Twelve years ago a friend of mine went out with a woman called Natalie and they had a child together.

“I met them together occasionally in the autumn of 1993, and it soon became clear that my friend had started to use drugs.

“He became more and more addicted and I saw his life fall apart.

“With his other friends I tried to persuade him to seek treatment.

“Eventually he did and after a long time in rehabilitation he has now recovered and put his life back together.

“I am very proud of the battle he has fought and won.

“That is, and always has been, the sum total of my connection with this woman.

“It was a stark lesson to me at a young age of the destruction which drugs bring to so many people’s lives.”

Mr Osborne has not commented on the fresh allegations.

The Telegraph

Comments
  • John September 12, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    If there is any substance to this story – and it is only an allegation – I’d just like to ask “WHY does the British general public sit there day by day and take moral lectures from people who have consistently shown themselves to be interested in one thing and one thing only – namely the self-satisfaction of their own material and sensual desires – at enormous cost to everyone else?”

    I am not sure what makes me most angry. The indulgence in a drug the trade in which leaves whole communities and indeed nations drenched in blood – or our people who continue to indulge these spoilt little public schoolboys who now stride the national and international stages purporting to speak on OUR behalf and in OUR interest!

    WAKE UP! FOR ****’* SAKE!

  • Holmey September 12, 2011 at 6:22 pm

    I’ve no problems at all with people taking drugs, what I have problems with is people who take or have taken drugs wanting to criminalise others who do the same as they have done/do with it being prohibition/criminalisation that causes most of the problems/violence in the drugs trade.

    You don’t get off licence owners going round stabbing and shooting the competition do you ?

    There’s a name for people like George Ozbourne – Hypocrite, bloody hypocrite 🙁

  • Douglas Xuvetyn on Facebook September 12, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    It’s all coming together & making perfect sense now, isn’t it? Osborne caught doing drugs & using hookers, Coulson spins it & Osborne comes out ok. Osborne then gets Cameron to hire Coulson as payback when in government and the rest is history.

  • Sasha Callaghan on Facebook September 12, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    I don’t care if George Osborne snorts cocaine (although in my experience it makes you think you’re being brilliantly incisive when you’re actually talking shite). I’m not driven into a moral frenzy about his ‘alleged’ involvement with sex workers (beyond my reservations around the exploitation of women as commodities. What I do care about is his hypocrisy and his involvement (how ever tangential) in the Murdoch scandal, the murder of Daniel Morgan and the massacre of the UK economy. I think that’s quite enough for the moment.

  • Lynn Harrison on Facebook September 12, 2011 at 11:39 pm

    as per, tory govts tend to fall because of sleaze ultimately

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