MICHELE NORRIS, host:
Today in Britain, Prime Minister David Cameron made his most forceful statement yet on the phone hacking scandal. Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. is shutting down the newspaper at the heart of the scandal, but investigations are proceeding. And this morning, a man who recently worked for Cameron and had served as the newspaper's top editor was arrested.
NPR's David Folkenflik fills us in.
DAVID FOLKENFLIK: Prime Minister Cameron started by condemning the practices alleged to have occurred at News of the World.
Prime Minister DAVID CAMERON (United Kingdom): Over the past few days, the whole country has been shocked by the revelations about the phone-hacking scandal - murder victims, terrorist victims, families who have lost loved ones, sometimes defending our country. That these people could have had their phones hacked into in order to generate stories for a newspaper is simply disgusting. I cannot think what was going through the minds of the people who did this.
FOLKENFLIK: Cameron announced two investigations, the first a public inquiry led by a judge into the question of illegal voicemail hacking by the press and the other a blue ribbon panel's review of the general practices of the newspaper industry.
He also promised a full investigation to determine whether police officers took illegal payments from the News of the World and why an earlier police inquiry into the paper was shut down in 2006. He said self-regulation by newspapers had failed and pledged a new system.
Prime Minister CAMERON: My starting presumption is that it should be truly independent. Independent of the press, so the public will know that newspapers will never again be solely responsible for policing themselves, but vitally independent of government so the public will know that politicians are not trying to control or muzzle a press that must be free to hold politicians to account.
FOLKENFLIK: But Cameron blamed his own profession, too.
Prime Minister CAMERON: The deeper truth is this: There is a less noble reason. Because party leaders were so keen to win the support of newspapers, we turned a blind eye to the need to sort this issue.
FOLKENFLIK: Like former Labor Prime Minister Tony Blair, Cameron actively courted the support of the Murdoch papers. But he has unusually personal ties.
He's friendly with James Murdoch, who oversees News Corp's British operations. Cameron is close with Rebekah Brooks, a former News of the World editor who's now the chief executive of Murdoch's British papers. And Cameron's former communications director, Andrew Coulson, is another former News of the World editor who resigned from the tabloid during an earlier stage in the scandal.
Cameron now says he would have accepted Brooks' resignation, and today's news about Coulson is even worse for him.
Unidentified Man #1: Cops raid Cam's man. That's the headline the News of the World might have put over pictures of detectives confiscating computers from the house of the man who once ran the paper, the man...
FOLKENFLIK: Police today arrested Coulson, citing the interception of private messages and corruption.
Ed Miliband is the leader of the opposition Labour Party.
Mr. ED MILIBAND (Labour Party Leader): I think we saw a prime minister today who still doesn't seem to get it. And I'm afraid he's someone who doesn't seem to be able to lead the change we need in the way the press works in this country, because he couldn't even bring himself to apologize for hiring Andy Coulson.
FOLKENFLIK: London police also arrested former News of the World royals editor Clive Goodman today. He's already served several months in jail for hacking. This time, it's on grounds of corruption.
Until recent days, News Corp's push to take over the giant broadcaster BSkyB seemed assured of approval by the government. But today, Cameron said the review would take more time, and it's likely to be delayed further by new scrutiny from an independent regulator.
Then again, it seems as though there's a new development every few hours. The Guardian newspaper reports that Scotland Yard is now investigating whether a News Corp. executive deleted millions of emails to obstruct its investigations.
David Folkenflik, NPR News, London.
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