Cameron defends actions in scandal

Cameron defends actions in scandal

News of shame: Murdochs company tried to stop probe, says panel

Cameron’s appearance before a special sitting of the House of Commons offered one more remarkable moment of passion and spectacle, following the appearance Tuesday of Rupert Murdoch, one of the world’s most powerful media moguls, and his son James, who were both questioned by lawmakers for nearly three hours.

On Wednesday, Cameron switched to the offensive, challenging Miliband to detail his party’s links and encounters with the Murdoch family, which were widely known under former prime ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown before the Murdochs’ daily tabloid, The Sun, shifted its support to Cameron before the May 2010 election.

He said all political parties had cozied up to media barons for years, seeking their electoral support. “The clock has stopped on my watch and we need to sort it out,” he said, calling for a new relationships between the press and politicians.

Cameron returned home early from an African trade tour late Tuesday to face questions about his own relationships with former senior figures at News International, the British subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s global News Corporation, particularly his choice of a former Murdoch employee, Andy Coulson, as his director of communications.

Coulson, a former editor of the tabloid, resigned from the prime minister’s office in January and was among 10 people who were arrested in the affair.

Referring to his decision to hire Coulson, Cameron said, “I regret and I am extremely sorry about the furor it has caused.”

Meanwhile, the Murdochs’ appearance — made yet more dramatic by a protester’s attack on Rupert Murdoch with a plate of shaving cream — did not seem on Wednesday to have come close to answering many of the questions the father and son faced about phone hacking in the British outpost of their media empire in 2002.

Indeed, one of the two parliamentary panels investigating the scandal released a scathing report on Wednesday accusing Murdoch companies of “deliberate attempts” to thwart its investigations, and said police inquiries had been a “catalogue of failures” in probing the issue.

The events played out against a backdrop of huge public revulsion over the central allegation that News of the World ordered a private investigator to hack the voice mail of Milly Dowler, a 13-year-old girl abducted and murdered in 2002.

The gathering of so many emotional issues, laced with big money deals, tabloid scandal and long-running British suspicion of the Murdoch machine, has crystallised into the most serious crisis of credibility and confidence of  Cameron’s 15 months in office — a crisis in which he seemed to be trying to regain some of the initiative seized earlier by the Labour opposition leader, Ed Miliband.

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