British Prime Minister David Cameron on Tuesday made a “full and frank” apology after his former media chief Andy Coulson was convicted of phone hacking, saying it was a “wrong decision” to hire him.
“I am extremely sorry I employed him. It was the wrong decision,” Cameron said.
“I gave someone a second chance and it turned out to be a bad decision.”
He spoke after the ex-News of the World editor was found guilty at the Old Bailey of conspiring to hack phones between 2000 and 2006. The same court acquitted former News International executive Rebekah Brooks of hacking charges.
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Cameron appointed Coulson in 2007.
He took him into Downing Street in the same role after becoming Prime Minister in 2010, only for Coulson to resign in 2011 amid the raging row over phone hacking.
In a statement to the media after Tuesday’s verdicts, Cameron said he took “full responsibility for employing Andy Coulson”.
“I did so on the basis of undertakings I was given by him about phone hacking and those turn out not be the case.
“I always said 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.”
Asked what checks he had made before employing Coulson, he said: “I asked him questions, if he knew about phone hacking, and he said he didn’t and I accepted those assurances and I gave him the job.
“I would say that no one has made any complaints about the work that he did for me, either as leader of the opposition or here, in Number 10 Downing Street. But knowing what I now know and knowing those assurances weren’t right, it was obviously wrong to employ him.”
The nearly eight-month phone hacking trial was triggered by revelations that for years the Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World tabloid used illegal eavesdropping to get stories, listened the voicemails of celebrities, politicians and even crime victims.
Employees of the newspaper were accused of engaging in phone hacking, police bribery, and exercising improper influence in the pursuit of publishing stories.
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