Sheridan case – Andy Coulson facing perjury charges

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By a Newsnet reporter

Andy Coulson, the former News of the World executive and media adviser to Prime Minister David Cameron, has been detained by police on suspicion of committing perjury.

Scotland’s Crown Office said that Mr Coulson was detained in London at 06:30 this morning by seven Strathclyde Police Detectives, he is being taken to Glasgow for questioning.

A police spokeswoman said: “Officers from Strathclyde Police’s Operation Rubicon team detained a 44-year-old man in London this morning under section 14 of the Criminal Procedure Scotland Act 1995 on suspicion of committing perjury before the High Court in Glasgow.”

It is believed that Mr Coulson is facing perjury charges relating to evidence he gave at the trial of Tommy Sheridan in 2010.  

The trial ended with the former Scottish Socialist leader being sent to prison for three years after being found guilty, by a narrow margin, of committing perjury he was released in January after having served one year of his sentence.

Prosecutors in Scotland re-examined the testimony given by former News of the World editor at the trial.  The Crown office also directed Strathclyde police to re-examine evidence given by other witnesses at Mr Sheridan’s trial.

The investigation followed revelations relating to the phone hacking scandal which led to suggestions that the News of the World had paid police officers for information.

At the trial Mr Coulson a former executive at the paper and former director of communications for Prime Minister David Cameron, testified that he had no knowledge of payments to police officers.

However emails subsequently surfaced that appeared 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”.

An internal report uncovered ‘smoking gun’ evidence of criminal behaviour at the News of the World five years ago, 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.

James Murdoch, son of Rupert, could face criminal charges since he approved out of court hush money settlements to hacking victims, which could now be considered a cover-up viewed in the light of the email revelations.

A further 2,200 News of the World emails, which may contain evidence of criminal behaviour by the paper’s staff, apparently went missing.