Former News of the World Scotland editor Bob Bird charged over Sheridan case


By a Newsnet reporter

Bob Bird, the former News of the World Scotland editor has been charged with perverting the course of justice by Strathclyde police.

According to STV news, the charges relate to evidence given by Mr Bird at the defamation trial of former MP Tommy Sheridan in 2006.

Mr Bird had been detained by officers involved in Operation Rubicon, which is investigating allegations of phone hacking and perjury relating to Mr Sheridan’s own perjury trial which led to the former Scottish Socialist leader being convicted and sentenced to prison.

Mr Bird, who is the ex-husband of BBC Scotland newsreader Jackie Bird, was also questioned on matters relating to a breach of data protection laws.

Speaking to waiting media after being released this morning, Mr Bird said: “I just want to say that I’m very sad, very disappointed that things have come to this.

“I have always done my best to do the right thing throughout the 30 to 40 years of my journalistic career and I will be denying the charge against me.  On legal advice I can’t say any more at the moment.”

After the 2006 trial, Tommy Sheridan was awarded £200,000 in compensation.  However following a police investigation costing several million pounds, the former Scottish Socialist MSP and member of Solidarity was found guilty by a narrow margin of having committed perjury and sentenced to three years.

Mr Bird also gave evidence at the second perjury trial in which he denied being part of an “illegal culture of phone-tapping”.

Mr Bird becomes the second former editor at the Scottish NotW to be charged by Starthclyde police over matters relating to the Sheridan trials.  Earlier this month, former editor Douglas Wight was charged with perjury and conspiring to hack telephones.

In total three former employees of News International have now been charged by Strathclyde police in relation to the Sheridan trials.

Former aide to Prime Minister David Cameron and News of the World Editor, Andy Coulson, was also arrested recently and charged with committing perjury at the trial of Mr Sheridan.

An internal police report uncovered ‘smoking gun’ evidence of criminal behaviour at the News of the World in 2007, however, it was not handed to Scotland Yard until June last year.

The report showed hacking was widespread and journalists were paying police.  Sources said 300 emails showed clear proof of criminal offences with a group of six journalists acting as ‘gatekeepers’ to private investigator Glen Mulcaire, who carried out hacking for the paper on a huge scale.

Some emails appeared to suggest there was clearly evidence of serious crime with senior journalists paying substantial sums of money to police officers for information.  The police officers were not named, but the company’s cash records correlate to four-figure sums mentioned in the emails totalling approximately £120,000.