(Updates with Cameron TV statement)
LONDON, June 24 British Prime Minister David
Cameron said on Tuesday he was wrong to hire Andy Coulson as his
media chief in 2007 after Coulson, an ex-editor of a Rupert
Murdoch tabloid, was found guilty of being part of a
Political opponents have long questioned Cameron's judgment
in hiring Coulson who resigned the editorship of Murdoch's now
defunct News of the World newspaper when two of its employees
were jailed for phone-hacking before Cameron hired him.
The Coulson verdict threatens to damage Conservative leader
Cameron's reputation ahead of a national election next year with
the opposition Labour party saying it shows the prime minister's
judgment is flawed.
In a clip to British TV recorded less than two hours after
the verdict was announced, Cameron tried to limit the damage to
his image by making a swift unambiguous apology.
"I'm extremely sorry that I employed him, it was the wrong
decision," Cameron said of Coulson, saying he was making a "full
and frank" apology for hiring him.
"I asked him questions about if he knew about phone hacking
and he said that he didn't and I accepted those assurances and I
gave him the job," said Cameron.
Coulson, 46, ran the British leader's media operations from
2007 until 2011. Cameron said he had given Coulson a second
chance after the ex-editor's media career had ended, something
he said he now realised was a bad decision.
Coulson denied wrongdoing before and after Cameron hired
him. During the trial, Coulson said he had been aware of one
hacking incident, but that staff had kept the widespread
criminal activity from him.
Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, said in 2011 it was "a
catastrophic error of judgment" for Cameron to have hired
Coulson. On Tuesday, Ben Bradshaw, a Labour lawmaker and former
cabinet minister, wrote on social networking site Twitter that
the Coulson verdict was "another damning indictment of Cameron's
terrible, terrible judgement."
Some of Cameron's allies at the time warned him against
collaborating with Coulson as lurid news stories about the
tabloid newspaper he used to run circulated, but Cameron chose
not to heed their warnings.
(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan and William James; Writing by
Andrew Osborn; Editing by Andrew Osborn)