When the former Downing Street comms aide took the Leveson stand yesterday, he claimed that Cameron and his staff sought no fresh assurances about Coulson's conduct as editor of the News of the World, despite media stories suggesting that phone hacking was rife at the tabloid.
Ingham told PRWeek that Cameron would ‘sustain damage’ after Coulson's performance.
‘For a man who criticised Blair for his "sofa government" style of decision making, for Cameron not even once to ask Coulson about hacking takes casual to a whole level – an almost suicidal level. The PM is already looking a little too laid back in how he works - pasties, granny taxes etc - and this startling failure will only reinforce that impression.’
Ingham added that Coulson was ‘by turns bullish and then clearly nervous’, although he revealed no ‘utter bombshells’.
However, Westminster University visiting professor of PR Trevor Morris said that Cameron could ‘sleep easy for at least another night’, and warned that Leveson was ‘becoming as remote from people’s lives as House of Lords reform’.
However, Morris pointed to a comment made by Coulson that TV is now more important than print in the run up to an election, which he said would generate some academic debate.
‘The research I’ve seen indicates that election campaigns make little if any difference to modern elections. Newspaper sales may be falling, but it also appears that election coverage drives down TV viewing figures. The election of Obama made some believe that online was the future but there is no evidence of that here in the UK. Last week indicates that election ennui is the biggest political PR problem.’
The Guardian’s columnist Roy Greenslade said that Coulson ‘played it brilliantly’ yesterday, adding 'he was careful not to be in the least bit critical of his former employers, including Rupert Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks', while appearing to remain loyal to Cameron and George Osborne.
Former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks will give evidence at the inquiry today.