London: British Prime Minister David Cameron on Wednesday defended the way his staff dealt with the police over claims of phone-hacking and bribery at Rupert Murdoch’s UK newspapers .
Cameron also said he regretted the furore caused by his decision to hire former Murdoch newspaper editor Andy Coulson as his media chief after he had resigned from the News of the World tabloid over phone-hacking.
Coulson has always denied any knowledge of phone-hacking at the newspaper.
“With 20:20 hindsight - and all that has followed - I would not have offered him the job and I expect that he wouldn’t have taken it,” Cameron told a packed parliament, adding that he would make a profound apology if it turned out that he had been misled over Coulson’s role in the scandal.
Cameron told lawmakers that he had not broken parliament’s ministerial code of conduct and defended his staff’s conduct.
“Number 10 has now published the full email exchange between my chief of staff and (former Scotland Yard assistant commissioner) John Yates and it shows my staff behaved entirely properly,” Cameron said.
Cameron’s chief of staff had stopped police briefing the Prime Minister on developments in the scandal last September, just days after the New York Times had run an article claiming Coulson had in fact been aware of the use of illegal phone-hacking when he was editing the News of the World.
Cameron was speaking at the start of an emergency session of parliament to discuss the hacking crisis that has engulfed Murdoch’s News Corp media empire, undermined faith in the police and raised questions over the prime minister’s judgment.
Opposition leader Ed Miliband said it was time for Cameron to make a full apology for hiring Coulson.
“It was a catastrophic error of judgement,” he said.
Coulson resigned as Downing Street director of communications in January in the wake of a scandal surrounding the hacking of phones belonging to members of the royal family.