British Prime Minister David Cameron has told the British parliament that he wishes he had never hired former News of the World editor Andy Coulson as his communications director.
Coulson, a former Murdoch man at the center of allegations of phone hacking, was employed by Cameron between 2007 and 2011.
In a statement to the House of Commons, posted on YouTube, Cameron said that if he knew then what he knows now, he would not have hired Coulson.
Cameron stopped short, however, of admitting error and added that, if it is proven that Coulson knew about phone hacking by the Murdoch tabloid — currently the subject of a parliamentary inquiry — he will have been lied to and Coulson will be open to criminal charges.
"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," he said.
Coulson remained as Cameron's communications director when Cameron became prime minister in 2010, despite allegations about Coulson's knowledge of phone hacking while at the News of the World. He resigned in January 2011, saying the continuing phone-hacking row was distracting him from his role.
The BBC published a timeline of Cameron's defense of his appointment of Coulson over the past two years.
On Sunday, Cameron cut shot a trip to Africa to talk to parliament about the phone hacking affair.
His statement comes a day after Rupert Murdoch appeared before the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee to answer questions over alleged phone hacking by News of the World, describing it as "the most humble day of my life."
(GlobalPost reports: Rupert Murdoch calls inquiry appearance his "most humble day", Text of Rupert Murdoch's statement)
News of the World reporters have been accused of illegally accessing thousands of cellphone voice mails of celebrities, politicians, rival journalists and even murder victims.
U.K. lawmakers are seeking to uncover the extent of criminality at Murdoch's News of the World tabloid. But Murdoch and his son, James, told the inquiry that they had not been aware of any wrongdoing at News International, which owned the recently shuttered News of the World.
James Murdoch told the panel that he and his father had “great regret” about the phone-hacking.
Rupert Murdoch also gave up his bid for British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB) last week amid criticism from lawmakers — including British prime minister David Cameron, over the alleged phone hacking.
Meanwhile, Cameron, who has been criticized for his close association with Murdoch and executives from the British arm of News Corporation, News International, on Wednesday suggested that the bid for BSkyB came up in his private meetings with executives from the company, but insisted that all conversations were "appropriate," the Guardian reports. He said that he was not involved in the government's decision about the BSkyB bid.