If Tory communications director Andy Coulson knew about the systemic illegal activity which took place by his staff when he was editor of the News of the World, he is surely finished in politics and public life.
The Guardian report uncovers enormous and systemic illegal activity by reporters on the Sun and the News of the World newspapers, to hack into an estimated two or three thousand mobile phones. When Royal reporter Clive Goodman was jailed, the newspaper claimed he was the only reporter involved. That position is untenable, despite Coulson's statement tonight.
Former Sunday Times editor Andrew Neil, speaking on Newsnight, was incredulous at the idea that Coulson could have been unaware of an operation on that scale, or could have been oblivious to how his reporters got their stories.
And yet David Cameron is "relaxed" about the story about the Tory party director of communications. This is not a good thing to be relaxed about.
Yet it is of a piece with Cameron's approach to the expenses crisis.
Cameron has been very keen to project the impression that he has been exceptionally tough and decisive over MPs' expenses - particularly stressing that some in his own party feel bruised. (And no doubt the knights of the shires have their shop stewards too).
There is a large element of mythology in this - most disgruntlement is really about the political expediency of the Cameron approach.
What Cameron has done is to loudly take on and dismiss the expendable - allowing him to protect allies closely.
So George Osborne is thought safe by his leader, though, as John Rentoul has pointed out, there is little relevant difference with the cases of Hazel Blears or Kittty Ussher, except the scale of Osborne's profits.
Meanwhile, Cameron wrote a warm personal endorsement letterletter to Bill Cash, in another interesting sign that he is working hard to maintain good relations with Euroscpetics, Cameron wrote, so that the veteran Eurosceptic could go into his constituency reselection with a clear exoneration from the party leader. (It is difficult to see that Labour MP Ian Gibson was more culpable than Cash (though many feel Gibson may have been particularly harshly treated).
Keeping Coulson may prove too difficult, But the attempt to do suggests that the only ethic that matters is one of convenience - and that different rules apply to the inner circle.