Miliband: “Striking” contrast between “honourable” Met chief and Cameron

Ed Miliband contrasted David Cameron's refusal to apologise for Andy Coulson with Sir Paul Stephenson's "honourable" resignation over the phone hacking scandal today.

Ed Miliband contrasted David Cameron’s refusal to apologise for hiring Andy Coulson with Sir Paul Stephenson’s “honourable” resignation over the phone hacking scandal today. He said it was a matter of “great concern” that the Met Police chief was “unable to discuss vital issues” with the prime minister, and that it was “striking” he had taken responsibility while Mr Cameron, patently, had not.

In a speech in the City this lunchtime, Mr Miliband said:

“Sir Paul Stephenson yesterday made an honourable decision and took responsibility.

“It is of great concern, however, that the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police was unable to discuss vital issues with the prime minister because he felt that David Cameron was himself compromised on this issue because of Andy Coulson.

“It is also striking that Sir Paul Stephenson has taken responsibility and resigned over the employment of Mr Coulson’s deputy, while the prime minister hasn’t even apologised for hiring Mr Coulson.

“We need leadership to get to the truth of what happened. But David Cameron is hamstrung by his own decisions and his unwillingness to face up to them.”

After the speech he added:

“Twelve days ago in the House of Commons I said to David Cameron you must apologise for the catastrophic error of judgement you made in hiring Andy Coulson. It is his failure to do so that draws a a sharp contrast with Sir Paul; Wallis hadn’t resigned for anything…

“He still has questions to answer over the information given to Ed Llewelyn, whether that infotmation went to Gus O’Donnell, as part of the vetting process over Andy Coulson, he has questions to answer about the warnings he was given by Nick Clegg and Lord Ashdown and others.

“I hope he answers the rewmaining questions about his relationship with Rebekah Brooks and James Murdoch, and the dinner they had, apparently 48 hours after Vince Cable was stripped of the power to decide over BSkyB, did they discuss BSkyB then or at any other time?

“Did he have discussions with Mr Hunt aboutt BSkyB? He has failed to show the leadership the country needs. It is important because of his faiure to apologise for the hiring of Andy Coulson.”

In his speech, Mr Miliband likened the phone hacking scandal to the MPs’ expenses crisis and the financial crash, which he said were all linked by the irresponsibility of powerful “untouchables” who do not think they have to follow the rules.

He said:

“There are common themes running through all three.

“The banker who paid himself millions of pounds for taking the most risky investments which would land his company and the country in the mire; the MP who fiddled the expenses system, landing himself, his party and our politics in disgrace; the editor of a newspaper which had a culture of illegality not for the public interest but simply in the search for sales, landing their paper and the whole industry in the dock.

“All are about the irresponsibility of the powerful. People who believed they were untouchable.

“This issue of responsibility is one which must be tackled throughout British society. From top to bottom. “The failure of our country to recognise and encourage responsibility isn’t just bad for fairness or people’s sense of right and wrong. It’s also holding Britain back in profound ways.”

Looking ahead to the future, he spoke of the need to look at new cross-media ownership rules to stop concentration of power in the hands of one proprietor, calling for a new set of press regulations which could include paying people wronged by the media without them having to go to court, and for prominent apologies to be published, not “buried away on an inside page”.

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