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British PM Denies Staff Tried To Halt Hacking Investigation

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron leaves 10 Downing Street in London to appear before Parliament on July 20.
British Prime Minister David Cameron has told Parliament that his aides did not attempt to stop an inquiry into phone hacking at the "News of the World" tabloid.

Cameron, speaking during a stormy emergency session of the House of Commons, said such an accusation would be "completely wrong."

He also defended his initial decision to hire Andy Coulson, a former editor of the paper, as his communications chief.

"With [perfect] hindsight and all that has followed, I would not have offered [Coulson] the job, and I expect that he wouldn't have taken it," Cameron said.

"But you don't make decision in hindsight. You make them in the present. You live and you learn, and believe you me, I have learned."

Coulson was arrested earlier this month amid allegations that he had known about phone hacking by "News of the World" reporters.

The now-shuttered tabloid over a period of six years hacked into the phone voicemails of some 4,000 people, including public figures, relatives of British soldiers killed in combat, and crime victims.

Cameron promised lawmakers that a government probe would examine the relationship between British politicians and media and investigate whether other news organizations may have broken the law.

Cameron cut short his Africa trip to appear before Parliament, which delayed its summer break to debate the scandal engulfing Britain's political and media elite.

'Humble Apology'

On July 19, the 80-year-old Rupert Murdoch was attacked by a protester with a foam pie when he appeared before a Parliamentary committee and made a "humble" apology for the scandal.

He said he did not feel personally responsible for the voicemail hacking, adding that staff at his organization were to blame for the situation.

"I feel that people I trusted -- I'm not saying who, I don't know what level -- have let me down and I think they behaved disgracefully and betrayed the company and me," he said, adding that it was "for them to pay" and that he was "the best person to clean this up."

compiled from agency reports