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Cameron toughens position on Andy Coulson: I wouldn't have hired him if I knew what I know now

By Tim Montgomerie
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There's a PDF of Cameron's full statement (PDF) but the most interesting part came at the end when the Prime Minister toughened (again) his position towards Andy Coulson:

"Finally Mr Speaker, there is the question whether everyone – the media, the police, politicians – is taking responsibility in an appropriate manner. I want to address my own responsibilities very directly – and that brings me to my decision to employ Andy Coulson. I have said very clearly that if it turns out Andy Coulson knew about the hacking at the News of the World he will not only have lied to me but he will have lied to the police, to a select committee, to the Press Complaints Commission and, of course, perjured himself in a court of law.  More to the point, if that comes to pass, he could also expect to face severe 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.  And, in that event, I can tell you I will not fall short.

My responsibilities are for hiring him – and for the work he did in Downing Street.  On the work he did, I will repeat, perhaps not for the last time, that his work at Downing Street has not been the subject of any serious complaint. And, of course, he left months ago.

On the decision to hire him, I believe I have answered every question about this. It was my decision. I take responsibility. People will, of course, make judgements about it. Of course I regret and I am extremely sorry about the furore it has caused.

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 learnt."

It's time now to move on. Ed Miliband has had a good fortnight. He needs to bank his achievements and not sink into seeing a conspiracy behind every corner. The Labour leader over-reached today in, for example, seeing something wrong in the Yates/Llewellyn emails (see my post last night). He is simultaneously shameless and reckless in continuing to pursue Andy Coulson when he's STILL employing the disgraced Tom Baldwin.

David Cameron has done everything he possibly could to begin a process that will clean up scandals that ALL happened under Labour's watch and which Gordon Brown, at his multiple meetings with Mr Murdoch, did nothing about. The public are as bored with this issue as the Westminster village is mesmerised. They want a Prime Minister focused on the great challenge of the moment the economy. As I argued this morning, that's where we need our Prime Minister's attention.


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