British Prime Minister David Cameron, under pressure due to his links with the scandal-scarred News Corp., has told MPs that he regrets ever hiring Andy Coulson, the former News of the World executive who is now in police custody for illegal phone-hacking.
Of course I regret, and I am extremely sorry, about the furor it has caused, Cameron told the gallery in the House of Commons. You live and you learn and believe you me, I have learned.”
The Prime Minister cut short a trip to Africa in order to face the mounting scandal that threatens his office.
Cameron warned that if Coulson – who briefly served as the Prime Minister’s chief communications aide – has lied about phone hacking while working at the tabloid, he should face “severe” criminal charges.
If it turns out I have been lied to that would be a moment for a profound apology, and in that event I can tell you I will not fall short, Cameron declared.
[In hindsight] I would not have offered him the job and I expect that he wouldn't have taken it.
However, opposition Labour leader Ed Miliband is not satisfied by Cameron’s contrition and has accused him of making a catastrophic error of judgment.
The country has the right to expect that the prime minister would have made every effort to know the facts about Mr Coulson, to protect himself and his office, Miliband said.
This can't be put down to gross ignorance. It was a deliberate attempt to hide from the facts on Mr Coulson.
Aside from the Coulson affair, Cameron is also being attacked by Labour MPs about his alleged discussions with News International executives about Rupert Murdoch’s attempts to take control of British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB).
As Labour and other opposition lawmakers shouted in outrage Cameron declared: I never had any inappropriate conversations.
Cameron also took a jab at his two predecessors at Downing Street, Labour Prime Ministers Tonty Blair and Gordon Brown, stating that they had much closer relationships with Murdoch than he ever did.