Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Cameron's Spin Doctor Admits Failures over Phone Hacking

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Cameron's Spin Doctor Admits Failures over Phone Hacking

Article excerpt

Byline: Joe Murphy Political Editor

TORY leader David Cameron's chief spin doctor today admitted things went "badly wrong" under his stewardship of the News of the World.

The admission came from Andy Coulson, who edited the Sunday tabloid at the time of the phone hacking scandal that saw its royal editor sent to prison.

Answering questions from MPs probing new claims that such illegal activities had been rife, Mr Coulson denied that he had ever known about or approved such practices but took the blame for failing to prevent them.

"Things went badly wrong under my editorship of the News of the World," he told the cross-party culture select committee.

"I deeply regret it. I suspect I always will. I take the blame because ultimately it was my responsibility."

He added: "I am not looking for sympathy and I am unlikely to get any today. But when I resigned I gave up a 20-year career with News International and in the process everything I worked towards from the age of 18." But MPs failed to obtain any admission from Mr Coulson or other executives from the News of the World giving evidence today that illegal activities were condoned or widespread.

Mr Coulson described former royal editor Clive Goodman as "a rogue reporter" who acted alone when he paid a private investigator to help him access phone messages belonging to members of the royal household.

"During that time I neither condoned the use of phone-hacking and nor do I have any recollection of instances when phone-hacking took place," he said.

He admitted he knew about a [pounds sterling]100,000-a-year contract given to Glen Mulcaire, the private eye who aided the illegal hacking operation, but said the payments were entirely for legiti-mathelp to the newspaper.

Asked why Mulcaire was given at least one contract under an alias, News International legal manager Tom Crone admitted that seemed "unusual". …

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