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UK PM under pressure in scandal

Monday, July 18, 2011 - 02:41

July. 18 - David Cameron defends his handling of a corruption scandal around Rupert Murdoch's media empire which forces resignation of a second top police officer and raises questions about the prime minister's own future. Matt Cowan reports.

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Another day, another casualty of the phone hacking saga in the UK. Assistant police commissioner John Yates has resigned over his role in the investigation into News of the World, a day after his boss Paul Stephenson stepped down from his post as police commissioner. Sunday's shock announcement by Britain's top cop is renewing pressure on Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron. On a trade mission to South Africa, Cameron responded to veiled criticism over his decision to hire former News of the World editor Andy Coulson as his communications chief. SOUNDBITE: David Cameron, UK Prime Minister, saying (English): "In terms of Andy Coulson, no-one has argued that the work he did in government in any way was inappropriate or bad. He worked well in government, he then left government. There is a contrast, I would say, with the situation at the Metropolitan police, where clearly at the Metropolitan Police the issues have been around whether or not the investigation is being pursued properly. And that is why I think Sir Paul (Stephenson) reached a different conclusion." Cameron is cutting his trip short and has announced that parliament will delay its summer recess to allow for a debate on the matter. On Tuesday, former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks is due to join Rupert and James Murdoch at a parliamentary hearing into the phone hacking scandal. Brooks - a former editor at News of the World was arrested on Sunday. Her lawyer Stephen Parkinson: SOUNDBITE: Stephen Parkinson, Lawyer for Rebekah Brooks saying (English): "Despite arresting her yesterday and conducting an interview process lasting nine hours they put no allegations to her and showed her no documents connecting her to any crime." James Murdoch's future as chairman of BSkyB has been thrown into doubt, as minority investors press for a review of the board's make up in the wake of the scandal. News Corp's U.S. shares are down while the company's Australian stock hit a two year low. Rupert Murdoch's biographer Michael Wolff sees further trouble ahead. SOUNDBITE: Michael Wolff, Murdoch Biographer saying (English): "James is certainly done for, but I think it goes deeper than that. I think it's very clear that the Murdoch brand has been hopelessly damaged at this point and they're a liability to the company." So the stage is set for a day of high drama as a parliamentary committee gets its first public opportunity to grill Rupert and James Murdoch over the phone hacking scandal - along with Rebakah Brooks, who was until last week, was the most powerful woman on Fleet Street. When the furor stirred by this scandal finally subsides, Britain will be left a much different place. Matt Cowan, Reuters

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UK PM under pressure in scandal

Monday, July 18, 2011 - 02:41