British PM tested over media chief`s resignation

British Prime Minister David Cameron began looking for a new media chief.

Updated: Jan 23, 2011, 00:40 AM IST

London: British Prime Minister David
Cameron began looking for a new media chief on Saturday to replace
Andy Coulson after he quit over a tabloid phone-hacking row,
in a test for the nine-month-old government.

"So far, our worst day in government," a senior
Cameron aide told The Guardian after Coulson quit yesterday,
bowing to pressure over what he knew about hacking at the News
of the World (NOTW) when he was its editor.

The dramatic development also renewed questions about
practises at the Sunday tabloid, commentators said, at a
crucial time for its owner, Rupert Murdoch`s News Corporation,
which is trying to expand its media holdings in Britain.

Coulson had been under growing pressure about what he
knew about the activities of the NOTW`s royal editor and a
private investigator who were jailed in January 2007 for
hacking voicemails of Princes William and Harry.

He resigned as editor over the row but said he knew
nothing about it.

However, after a string of fresh revelations, he
announced Friday that he could no longer focus on his job,
saying: "I stand by what I`ve said about those events but when
the spokesman needs a spokesman, it`s time to move on."

Cameron said he was "very sorry" at the departure of
the 43-year-old, who helped his Conservative party win power
in May 2010 elections.

But opposition Labour leader Ed Miliband questioned
why the prime minister "hung on to Andy Coulson for so long",
and many newspapers took the same line.

The left-leaning Independent said the resignation cast
"serious doubt" on Cameron`s judgement while The Financial
Times said the premier was "reckless" to have hired Coulson in
the first place, just months after he quit the NOTW.

The Guardian, which had been investigating the
phone-hacking, said Cameron was now left "with a crucial
vacancy as the coalition government weathers dissent about
cuts", introduced to help reduce a huge deficit.