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2011-07-21

British PM Cameron Refuses to Apologize for Murdoch Scandal, But Acknowledges BSkyB Takeover Talks

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Media mogul Rupert Murdoch has returned to the United States as his media empire faces a growing number of challenges over the phone-hacking scandal that’s led to a number of arrests in Britain and prompted an investigation here in the United States. British Prime Minister David Cameron appeared before an emergency session of Parliament on Wednesday to address the scandal. Cameron refused to apologize for hiring Andy Coulson, a former Murdoch employee who recently served as Cameron’s communications chief at Downing Street, but admitted that he had talked to Murdoch executives about News Corp.’s attempt to take over the satellite company BSkyB. [includes rush transcript]

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Media mogul Rupert Murdoch returned to the United States on Wednesday as his media empire is facing a growing number of challenges across the globe. Here in the United States, Democratic Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey urged the Justice Department and the FBI on Wednesday to investigate whether a U.S.-based subsidiary of News Corp. illegally wiretapped U.S. citizens. It’s been alleged that employees of a Murdoch-owned advertising company hacked into the website of a competitor called Floorgraphics 11 times between 2003 and 2004.

Meanwhile, Murdoch faces at least two shareholder lawsuits in the United States. The independent directors on the board of News Corp. have hired former U.S. attorney general Michael Mukasey and former U.S. attorney Mary Jo White. News Corp. has also hired a prominent attorney in the United States specializing in the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

AMY GOODMAN: In Britain, Prime Minister David Cameron appeared before an emergency session of Parliament Wednesday. He refused to apologize for hiring Andy Coulson, a journalist at the heart of the phone-hacking scandal that’s rocked Britain’s press. Up until January, Coulson served as Cameron’s communications chief at Downing Street. Then he was arrested.

PRIME MINISTER DAVID CAMERON: 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’ve 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.

ED MILIBAND: It’s not about hindsight, Mr. Speaker. It’s not about whether Mr. Coulson lied to him. It is about all the information and warnings that the Prime Minister ignored. He was warned, and he preferred to ignore the warnings. So that the country can have the leadership we need, why doesn’t he do more—why doesn’t he do more than give a half-apology and provide the full apology now for hiring Mr. Coulson and bringing him into the heart of Downing Street?

AMY GOODMAN: Opposition leader Ed Miliband responding to British Prime Minister David Cameron. During Wednesday’s session of Parliament, Cameron also admitted he had talked to Murdoch executives about News Corp.’s attempt to take over the satellite company BSkyB. He was questioned by Labour MP Dennis Skinner.

DENNIS SKINNER: As prime minister, did he ever discuss the question of the BSkyB bid with News International at the meetings that they attended?

PRIME MINISTER DAVID CAMERON: I never had one inappropriate conversation. And let me be clear. Let me be clear. Let me be clear. I completely—I completely took myself out of any decision making about this bid.

Whereas Rebekah Brooks was invited six times a year to Number Ten Downing Street under both the former prime ministers, she hasn’t been invited to Number Ten Downing Street by me. Now, of course, I have set out—the great contrast—the great contrast is I have not—I have set out all of the contacts and meetings that I’ve had, in complete contrast to the party opposite. And I can say—I can say this to the honorable gentlemen: I have never held a slumber party or seen her in her pajamas.

AMY GOODMAN: That was British Prime Minister David Cameron. In a moment, we will talk with Nick Davies. He is the reporter who has broken the Murdoch media scandal wide open. Back in 30 seconds.

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