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Cameron attacked by opposition leader on hiring phone-hacking Andy Coulson

English.news.cn   2014-06-25 04:45:48

LONDON, June 24 (Xinhua) -- British Prime Minister David Cameron was attacked Tuesday by the opposition Labor Party for bringing "a criminal into the heart of Downing Street" after a British court ruled that one of Cameron's former aides was guilty of phone hacking.

Andy Coulson, Cameron's former communications director and an ex-editor of the deceased British tabloid News of the World, was found guilty of conspiracy to phone hacking, according to a ruling Tuesday by London's Central Criminal Court, commonly known as the Old Bailey.

"I believe this isn't just an error of judgment. This tainted David Cameron's government," Britain's opposition Labor Party leader Ed Miliband said on national TV.

"David Cameron was warned about Andy Coulson. The evidence mounted up against Andy Coulson. David Cameron must have had his suspicions about Andy Coulson and yet he refused to act," Miliband continued.

Noting that "David Cameron has very very serious questions to answer," the opposition leader also accused that the prime minister "put his relationship with Rupert Murdoch ahead of doing the right thing when it came to Andy Coulson."

A large number of celebrities, victims of crime and members of the British royal family were believed to be among those whose private voicemails had been hacked by the sensation-seeking News of the World tabloid via illegal means.

"My thoughts today are most importantly with the victims of phone hacking who suffered terrible intrusion into their privacy," Miliband said on his personal twitter feed.

Coulson, a former editor of the tabloid, was hired by Cameron as communications director for the Conservative Party in 2007 and went on to become the prime minister's communications director in the coalition government in 2010, but was forced to resign the next year when the hacking scandal escalated.

Following the verdicts on Tuesday, Cameron apologized for hiring Coulson: "I am extremely sorry that I employed him. It was the wrong decision," the prime minister said, adding that "I take full responsibility for employing Andy Coulson."

However, Cameron did not forget to defend his decision of employing the controversial figure: "I did so on the basis of undertakings I was given by him about phone hacking and those turn out not be the case."

"But knowing what I now know and knowing those assurances weren't right, it was obviously wrong to employ him," the prime minister continued, noting that "no one has made any complaints about the work that he did for me."

Urging Cameron to do much more than apology, Miliband said the prime minister "owes the country an explanation for why he did not act on the allegations against Andy Coulson."

Coulson was convicted of conspiracy to phone hacking, while former chief executive of News International Rebekah Brooks was cleared of all charges in the phone-hacking scandal, London's Central Criminal Court ruled on Tuesday.

Coulson, 46, resigned from the News of the World in 2007 with the unfolding of its phone hacking affair, before he was rehired by Cameron as his party's communications director.

Rebekah Brooks, 46, Coulson's predecessor at News of the World, was found not guilty of conspiracy to hack voicemails, while her husband Charlie Brooks and News International's former head of security Mark Hanna were cleared of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, according to the verdicts on Tuesday.

Rebekah Brooks was arrested in 2011 by police investigating allegations of corruption and phone hacking.

In 2011, News of the World, a 168-year-old Sunday paper owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., was closed following revelations of its large scale phone hacking practices.

Coulson could face a maximum of two years in prison. He and Rebekah Brooks were among seven defendants who stood trial in relation to the phone-hacking scandal.

Editor: yan
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