UK's Cameron says sorry he hired ex-media chief guilty of phone-hacking

LONDON Tue Jun 24, 2014 6:44pm IST

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron leaves Downing Street to meet his Estonian counterpart Taavi Roivas in London June 18, 2014. REUTERS/Neil Hall

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron leaves Downing Street to meet his Estonian counterpart Taavi Roivas in London June 18, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Neil Hall

Related Topics

Stocks

   

LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Tuesday he was wrong to hire Andy Coulson as his media chief in 2007 after Coulson, an ex-editor of a Rupert Murdoch tabloid, was found guilty of being part of a phone-hacking conspiracy.

Political opponents have long questioned Cameron's judgment in hiring Coulson who resigned the editorship of Murdoch's now defunct News of the World newspaper when two of its employees were jailed for phone-hacking before Cameron hired him.

The Coulson verdict threatens to damage Conservative leader Cameron's reputation ahead of a national election next year with the opposition Labour party saying it shows the prime minister's judgment is flawed.

In a clip to British TV recorded less than two hours after the verdict was announced, Cameron tried to limit the damage to his image by making a swift unambiguous apology.

"I'm extremely sorry that I employed him, it was the wrong decision," Cameron said of Coulson, saying he was making a "full and frank" apology for hiring him.

"I asked him questions about if he knew about phone hacking and he said that he didn't and I accepted those assurances and I gave him the job," said Cameron.

Coulson, 46, ran the British leader's media operations from 2007 until 2011. Cameron said he had given Coulson a second chance after the ex-editor's media career had ended, something he said he now realised was a bad decision.

Coulson denied wrongdoing before and after Cameron hired him. During the trial, Coulson said he had been aware of one hacking incident, but that staff had kept the widespread criminal activity from him.

Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, said in 2011 it was "a catastrophic error of judgment" for Cameron to have hired Coulson. On Tuesday, Ben Bradshaw, a Labour lawmaker and former cabinet minister, wrote on social networking site Twitter that the Coulson verdict was "another damning indictment of Cameron's terrible, terrible judgement."

Some of Cameron's allies at the time warned him against collaborating with Coulson as lurid news stories about the tabloid newspaper he used to run circulated, but Cameron chose not to heed their warnings.

(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan and William James; Writing by Andrew Osborn; Editing by Andrew Osborn)

FILED UNDER:

Sony Cyber Attack

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Exit Polls

Exit Polls

BJP unlikely to form Jammu & Kashmir govt - polls.  Full Article 

Forceful Conversions

Forceful Conversions

BJP distances itself from religious conversions.  Full Article 

Photo

Fund Raising

Flipkart raises $700 million in fresh funding.   Full Article 

Reforms Push

Reforms Push

Modi may order insurance, coal reforms if vote delayed - officials.  Full Article 

Economic Pulse

Economic Pulse

Crank up public spending to revive growth - chief economic adviser.  Full Article 

Reuters Exclusive

Reuters Exclusive

India looks to sway Americans with nuclear power insurance plan  Full Article 

Down Under

Down Under

Magic Johnson inspires Australia to second test win.  Full Article 

Going International

Going International

Bollywood’s Priyanka Chopra sets sights on American TV.  Full Article 

India This Week

India This Week

Some of our best photos from this week.   Full Coverage 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device   Full Coverage