News of the World set to close as police urged to investigate Sheridan witnesses

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by G.A.Ponsonby

The News of the World looks set to close after the scandal of phone hacking rocked the paper.

Reports suggest that allegations of phone tapping of murder victims and the relatives of dead soldiers has left the owners News International with no option but to end production of the paper.

The allegations have also become headline news in Scotland after several figures involved with the paper testified at the perjury trial of Tommy Sheridan.

Yesterday Labour MP Tom Watson and Tommy Sheridan’s defence lawyer, Aamer Anwar, called on police to investigate News of the World witnesses who testified at the former MSP’s perjury trial.

The calls come as it emerged that prosecutors in Scotland are to re-examine the testimony given by former News of the World editor Andy Coulson at the trial.  The Crown office has also directed Strathclyde police to re-examine evidence given by other witnesses at Mr Sheridan’s trial.

The new revelations come in the wake of the phone hacking scandal currently engulfing the paper amidst further suggestions that the newspaper paid police officers for information.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday Mr Anwar welcomed the announcement saying: “We welcome that, it’s a demand we have been making over the course of the last week.”

“Extremely serious allegations have been made against Andrew Coulson and against other individuals from the News of the World.”

Tommy Sheridan was jailed for three years in January this year after being convicted of lying under oath at an earlier court case against the News of the World.  At the trial Mr Coulson, the former director of communications for Prime Minister David Cameron, testified that he had no knowledge of payments to police officers.

However emails have since surfaced that appear to cast doubt on these claims.  Scottish News of the World editor Bob Bird was also questioned at the trial but denied being part of an “illegal culture of phone-tapping”.

Mr Anwar highlighted the £ millions spent on investigating Mr Sheridan and suggested that if the News of the World executives were suspected of breaking the law then they should be “investigated and prosecuted and sent to prison.”

The news comes as police reveal that they are looking through a list of some 4000 potential victims, many thought to be relatives of soldiers killed in action.

It prompted the Royal British Legion to suspend its links with the paper and with more advertisers breaking ties with the NotW there were warnings that the paper faced long term significant financial damage.

Sainsbury’s, Specsavers, Flybe and Boots are reported to have joined car giant Ford in breaking ties with the Sunday tabloid.  The UK government is also said to be considering whether to suspend advertising with the News of the World.

 

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