Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Cameron's Apology as Coulson Found Guilty

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Cameron's Apology as Coulson Found Guilty

Article excerpt

PRIME Minister David Cameron offered an "unreserved" apology for employing Andy Coulson at Downing Street, after his former director of communications was found guilty of phone hacking.

In a televised apology, echoed later by Chancellor George Osborne, Mr Cameron said he took "full responsibility" for employing the former News of the World editor and was "profoundly sorry" that assurances he was given about Coulson's past during his job interview had turned out to be false.

But Labour leader Ed Miliband said the apology did not go far enough, and the Prime Minister had "very serious questions to answer" about why he stuck by Coulson long after serious allegations about him had become public.

Mr Cameron had "brought a criminal into the heart of Downing Street" and his Government was "tainted" as a result," said Mr Miliband, who accused the Prime Minister of putting his relationship with press tycoon and News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch ahead of the public interest.

Mr Cameron acknowledged people would be "concerned" at Coulson having worked for him both as leader of the opposition and Prime Minister, but stressed that there had been no complaints about his work at No10.

The Prime Minister said both he and chief of staff Ed Llewellyn asked the ex-tabloid editor whether he knew about phone hacking before he was hired, and were assured he did not. Mr Cameron said: "I take full responsibility for employing Andy Coulson. I did so on the basis of undertakings I was given by him about phone hacking and those turned out not to be the case.

"I always said that if they turned out to be wrong, I would make a full and frank apology and I do that today.

"I am extremely sorry that I employed him. It was the wrong decision and I am very clear about that."

Pressed over the exact questions which he had put to Coulson when interviewing him for his job, Mr Cameron said: "I asked him questions about whether he knew about phone hacking and he said he didn't and I accepted those assurances and I gave him the job. …

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