British prime minister takes responsibility for hiring Coulson, says he would have accepted other editor’s resignation
Andy Coulson, the former News of the World editor and aide to British Prime Minister David Cameron, was arrested Friday in Britain's investigation of the tabloid's phone hacking scandal.
In a statement, Scotland Yard said Coulson (left) was arrested at a south London police station and was currently in custody "in connection with allegations of corruption and phone hacking."
The News of the World, which Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. will shut down after Sunday's paper because of the scandal, is Murdoch's largest print property.
At a news conference Friday, Cameron called for an investigation into what happened at the tabloid, why an "inadequate" 2006 investigation failed to uncover it, and into allegations that police took bribes. He said that investigation could begin when the current police probe ends. He also called for another investigation to begin soon into how to better regulate the British press.
He said Coulson was a "friend" when he hired him, and that party leaders had gotten too close to the people covering them. He said they were "so keen to win the support of newspapers we turned a blind eye to the need to sort this issue."
Murdoch's son and the CEO of News Corp. for Europe and Asia, James Murdoch, said Thursday that the tabloid had engaged in significant wrongdoing. Asked about the admission Friday, Cameron said police should question everyone involved in the case, "no matter how high or low."
He also said he would have accepted the reported resignation offer of another former News of the World editor, Rebekah Brooks, who is now chief executive of the British newspaper division of News Corporation.
"On the case of Rebekah Brooks, as I have said, it’s not right for a prime minister to start picking and choosing who should and shouldn’t run media organizations. But it has been reported that she offered her resignation over this and in this situation, I would have taken it," he said.
Cameron also took responsibility for hiring Coulson.
"I decided to give him a second chance," Mr. Cameron said, "and no one has ever raised serious concerns about how he did his job for me. But the second chance didn’t work out and he had to resign all over again. The decision to hire him was mine, and mine alone, and I take full responsibility for it."
Coulson resigned as editor of News of the World in 2007 on the day his former royal editor, Clive Goodman, was imprisioned for conspiracy to access phone messages.
He admitted no wrongdoing and said he didn't know of Goodman's activities. Cameron then hired him as his director of communications, but Coulson resigned that post in January as the investigation into phone hacking expanded.