UK & World News

  • 25 June 2014, 12:15

Hacking: Milly Dowler's Sister In Regulation Call

Milly Dowler's sister has urged David Cameron to bring in "real" press regulation after former News of the World editor Andy Coulson was convicted of phone hacking.

In a video released by the HackedOff campaign group, Gemma Dowlercriticised the "incestuous relationship" between the press and politicians and branded the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso), which has been set up to regulate the industry, as "meaningless".

"No parents should ever have to be told that their murdered daughter's mobile phone was hacked," she said.

She urged the Prime Minister: "Please keep your promise to us, the victims, that you will deliver real and permanent change to make sure what happened to us will never happen again."

Mr Cameron will also face a grilling at PMQsfollowing the conviction of his former spin doctor.

The Prime Minister has already apologised for employing Coulson as his Director of Communications, saying it was "the wrong decision".

But Labour leader Ed Miliband has said Mr Cameron's apology is not enough and he has "very, very serious questions to answer".

He said: "This was not some small or accidental mistake. He stuck with Coulson over a long period of time and it wasn't like there wasn't information out there to arouse his suspicions.

"He was warned by the Deputy PM; he saw front page stories; he was warned by newspaper editors and yet still he refused to act and even today, defending some of the conduct of Coulson when he worked for him," Mr Miliband said.

"I think Cameron must do much more than an apology - he must give the country an explanation as to why he did not act, why he did not act on these allegations against Andy Coulson."

The Prime Minister employed Mr Coulson as his top communications chief in May 2010, after he had resigned from the News of the World.

Mr Cameron said the former editor had given him "false assurances" he had no involvement in phone hacking and he had wanted to give him a "second chance".

The Prime Minister said he was given "undertakings by him on phone hacking and I always said if they turned out to be wrong I would make a full and frank apology and I do that today".

He said: "I am extremely sorry that I employed him. It was the wrong decision and I am very clear about that."

Some insiders believe Mr Cameron's judgement was affected by his relationship with Coulson.

Sean Kemp, a former adviser to Nick Clegg in Downing Street, told Sky News: "I think they genuinely believed his denials, you could argue that maybe they wanted to believe his denials because they liked him and because he was an impressive performer.

"Obviously with hindsight they wish they hadn't done it. But hindsight is always easy."

Mr Cameron insisted there had never been any complaints about the work Coulson did for him as leader of the opposition before he became Prime Minister or while he was working at Downing Street.

He said he and his chief of staff, Ed Llewellyn, had questioned Coulson on "whether he knew about phone hacking" but had been assured he had not.

Mr Cameron said: "But knowing what I now know, and know that the assurances were not right, it was obviously wrong to employ him. I gave someone a second chance and it turned out to be a bad decision."

Business Secretary Vince Cable said the PM had apologised for appointing Coulson.

He told Sky News: "The Conservatives make their own appointments in government.

"I think we now need to focus much more on the victims.

"Some people suffered terribly as a result of this hacking scandal.

"The responsibility on the politicians of all parties is to now make sure the recommendations of the Leveson inquiry, which is to have a proper independent regulator to finally close down the last chance saloon as he called it, that this action is now taken."

Coulson resigned from his 140,000-a-year role at No 10 in January 2011 after the NOTW allegations intensified, insisting he was not involved in the scandal but saying: "When the spokesman needs a spokesman it's time to move on."

In July 2011, Mr Cameron told the House of Commons that if it "turns out I have been lied to, that would be the moment for a profound apology. And, in that event, I can tell you I will not fall short".

Chancellor George Osborne, who recommended Coulson to Mr Cameron, also apologised and said: "We gave him a second chance but, knowing what we now know, it's clear that we made the wrong decision."

A jury at the Old Bailey found Coulson guilty of phone hacking between 2000 and 2006, however, it is still considering its verdicts on conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office.

Rebekah Brooks, former chief executive of News International and ex News of the World editor, was cleared of all charges against her, as was her husband, the racehorse trainer Charlie Brooks.

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