British PM says with hindsight, would have not hired Coulson

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British Prime Minister David Cameron admitted on Wednesday that with hindsight, he would not have hired former News of the World editor Andy Coulson as his media chief.

"People will of course make judgements about it. Of course I regret and I am extremely sorry about the furore it has caused," Cameron said in an emergency statement to parliament on the phone-hacking scandal.

"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.

"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."

Cameron has come under intense pressure over his decision to hire Coulson, shortly after the journalist quit as editor of the News of the World in 2007 following the jailing of two people at the tabloid over phone hacking.

Coulson has always denied wrongdoing but he was arrested earlier this month on over the scandal, and on allegations of police bribery. He resigned as Downing Street communications chief in January.

The prime minister however refused to formally apologise for hiring Coulson.

He repeated his earlier assertion that if it turned out that Coulson had lied to him about his knowledge of hacking at the News of the World tabloid, and had lied to the police, it would be a matter for criminal charges.

"I have an old-fashioned view about innocent until proven guilty but if it turns out I have been lied to that would be a moment for a profound apology," he added.

© 2011 AFP

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