In 1987 someone was murdered with an axe. In 2000 a private investigator who had worked for the News of the World was jailed for seven years planting cocaine on someone to discredit them. In 2005 that PI was released and got a job at the News of the World again. In 2008 he was charged with the aforementioned axe murder 21 years previously, and then on Friday, 24 years later the trial collapsed with the Crown offering no evidence against him.
So where does Coulson fit into this? Well, he was Editor of the NotW between 2003 and 2007, so was "in charge" when some subordinates re-hired the PI when he came out of prison. This appears to be the first "charge" by the Guardian, although as yet that I can see they've not published any evidence that Coulson personally hired the guy, but the buck stops at the top right, and I'm sure that Alan Rusbridger would take wholesale responsibility should it turn out one of his low-level tea boys was employed after a prison sentence.
The second "strong link" to Coulson - as Mr Rusbridger puts it - seems to be about the collapsed trial on Friday. You see, it appears to be that Coulson, when editor in 2005 should have anticipated a collapsed murder trial six years later and blocked any attempt to re-hire a guy jailed for an incident unrelated to his work for the News of the World.
Called me old-fashioned, but I'd call that just a "mildly circumstantial" rather than "strong" link, but then I'm not a wholesale Murdoch hater and as such I am no doubt biased and can be therefore dismissed out of hand for not seeing the "truth" like others do.
Apparently though, there are "judgment" issues here.
There is the judgment of Coulson himself for (a) not being able to see into the future which clearly any normal person can do, and (b) allowing a scumbag jailed for a crime unrelated to his work for the newspaper to be paid under contract by the newspaper again. The perceptive might notice that the Guardian has had to do a quick doublethink switch at this point and forget all its progressive editorials in the past about offending and rehabilitation and go down the Daily Mail route of "once a nose picker always a nose picker" line.
The other judgment issue is, of course, David Cameron. You see, he shouldn't, apparently, have employed Coulson, because the Guardian wrote to him and told him that some years previously Coulson had been in charge of an newspaper that had allowed a scumbag jailed for a crime unrelated to his work for the newspaper to be paid under contract by the newspaper again. After all, only a progressive soft left-wing tosser would do that and the Guardian, being in full Daily Mail mode naturally finds such behaviour despicable.
What's more, the Guardian told him that this guy was up on a murder charge! Cameron should, it seems, have just cut Coulson loose immediately because clearly (a) the guy must be assumed to be guilty, (b) Coulson's tenuous link to him previously make him guilty of something horrible by association, and (c) that association will go upward and although it's some degree of separation Cameron will be guilty because of his association with a man who has an association with a guilty man.
Rusbridger must have been truly gutted when the trial collapsed. Not you understand because the vicious murder of a man in 1987 remains unsolved, but rather because it meant the angle couldn't be "Cameron is linked to Coulson, Coulson is linked to vicious murderer, Downing Street has blood on its hand". Instead what we've actually got is:
"Cameron is linked to Coulson, and Coulson is linked to a man acquitted of murder but who did do something unrelated but dodgy resulting in a prison sentence many years ago when Cameron was working for Carlton Communications, but the guy was re-hired by the paper Coulson was "in charge" of when Cameron was an MP, and Cameron was told about this five years later so this clearly calls into question Cameron's judgment at hiring Coulson in Downing Street."Certainly puts the complaints of many Guardian readers about the idiocy of Daily Mail "exposes" into context doesn't it?