Cameron Back In UK, Makes Parliamentary Statement

Cameron Extremely Sorry

PRESS ASSOCIATION - David Cameron has said he is "extremely sorry" for the furore his appointment of Andy Coulson as his communications chief has caused.

In a Commons statement, the Prime Minister said that with the benefit of "20:20 hindsight" he would not have given the former News of the World editor the job, and added that he would owe a "profound apology" if it turned out that the assurances Mr Coulson had given him that he was not involved in phone hacking had turned out to be false.

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Mr Cameron said that if Mr Coulson had lied about phone hacking at his time at the News of the World then he should face "severe" criminal charges. He added: "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."

He acknowledged that if he had known when he appointed Mr Coulson what he knew now, he would never have offered him the job.

"Of course I regret, and I am extremely sorry about the furore it has caused. 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," he said. "But you don't make decisions in hindsight, you make them in the present. You live and you learn and believe you me, I have learned."

In his statement, Mr Cameron said he is widening the remit of the judicial inquiry set up under Lord Justice Leveson. He said it will now look at broadcasters and social media, as well as the press, if there was any evidence they had been involved in criminal activities.

It will consider the individual conduct of press, police and politicians as well as the relationship between them. It will also look at all relevant police forces and not just the Metropolitan Police. Mr Cameron said the inquiry will begin work immediately and will deliver its first report within 12 months.

Labour leader Ed Miliband dismissed Mr Cameron's words on Mr Coulson as "not enough", and claimed there had been at least five occasions where his office ignored damning information about the former News of the World editor.

The Labour leader went on: "This cannot be put down to gross incompetence. It was a deliberate attempt to hide from the facts about Mr Coulson. The Prime Minister was caught in a tragic conflict of loyalty between the standards of integrity that people should expect of him and his staff and his personal allegiance to Mr Coulson. He made the wrong choice."

Earlier, Buckingham Palace had strongly rejected "outrageous" claims by a Labour MP that officials tried to warn Mr Cameron against appointing former News of the World editor Mr Coulson as his director of communications. The Palace issued a formal denial after Chris Bryant claimed senior figures had sought to relay their concerns directly to No 10.


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