Phone hacking scandal: British PM defends his decision to hire Andy Coulson

Vidya Ram London | Updated on March 12, 2018 Published on July 20, 2011

The British Prime Minister, Mr David Cameron, has defended his decision to hire a former News of the World executive at the centre of the phone hacking scandal, but added that with “hindsight” he would not have done so.

Mr Cameron did not apologise for his decision to hire Mr Andy Coulson as his communications director, but said he was “sorry about the furore it has caused’’.

He said he also accepted “full responsibility” for hiring Mr Coulson, and should it be revealed that Mr Coulson lied to him about not knowing anything about the hacking scandal, he would make a “profound apology’’.

Mr Cameron had cut short a tour of Africa to attend the emergency session of Parliament, which followed a dramatic day of events on Tuesday and the appearances of Mr James and Mr Rupert Murdoch before a select committee.

Mr Coulson, who had stepped own as Editor of the News of the World, resigned as Mr Cameron’s Director of Communications in January. Mr Cameron has faced criticism over his decision firstly to hire Mr Coulson and then to keep him on, despite warnings including from The Guardian newspaper and Labour MP, Mr Tom Watson.

“It was a deliberate attempt to hide from the facts about Mr Coulson,” said Ed Milliband, leader of the main opposition Labour Party, who described the decision to keep Mr Cameron as a “catastrophic” error of judgment.

The Prime Minister was also forced to defend his relationship with News Corp, following relations that since taking office, he had met with representatives of News Corp on 26 separate occasions.

His failure to clarify that he had not discussed News Corp’s bid to buy BSkyB with News Corp executives led to further outrage among MPs.

It came as the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee accused News International of trying to “deliberately thwart” the original investigation into phone hacking back in 2006.

"There has been a catalogue of failures by the Metropolitan Police, and deliberate attempts by News International to thwart the various investigations,” said Mr Keith Vaz, MP, the Indian-origin chairman of the committee.

Also on Wednesday, the Prime Minister announced that the remit of a previously announced judge-led inquiry would be extended to include other police forces and other media organisations including social media and broadcast media. The inquiry is expected to make its first report on the first part of the inquiry within a year.

Published on July 20, 2011
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