Former NOTW editor Andy Coulson cleared of perjury
Published 03/06/2015 | 10:48
Former News of the World editor Andy Coulson has been cleared of lying at the trial of former socialist MSP Tommy Sheridan after the case against him collapsed.
Coulson, 47, had been on trial for around two weeks at the High Court in Edinburgh, where he denied committing perjury during the 2010 case in Glasgow.
Trial judge Lord Burns upheld a defence motion that Coulson, from Kent - a former director of communications for the Prime Minister - had no case to answer.
Delivering his ruling, Lord Burns said he had "sustained the arguments in favour of the accused" and told Coulson: "I acquit you of the charge."
He gave his decision on Monday following two days of legal submissions from Mr Coulson's defence QC but it could not be reported until today as the Crown was given time to decide whether to appeal against the ruling.
Coulson was found guilty in June last year of conspiring to intercept voicemails at the now-defunct Sunday tabloid following a trial at the Old Bailey.
During the perjury trial, the Crown led evidence from several former journalists at the paper as they tried to build a picture of practices while Coulson was editor - a position he held from January 2003 until his resignation in January 2007.
But when the prosecution closed its case after seven days of evidence last Tuesday, Mr Coulson's legal team lodged a submission that there was no case to answer and among the arguments said the evidence alleged to be false in this case was not relevant to the then live issues - the charge of perjury in Mr Sheridan's trial.
The prosecution case centred around what they alleged to be lies told by Coulson under oath at Mr Sheridan's trial more than four years ago.
Mr Sheridan was on trial for perjury at that stage and, while conducting his own defence, called Coulson as a witness over two days at the High Court in Glasgow in December 2010.
Mr Sheridan's trial was in respect of evidence he gave in an earlier 2006 civil action.
Coulson's trial heard that, following publication of a series of articles in the News of the World, Mr Sheridan raised a defamation action in Scotland's Court of Session against the newspaper's publishers, News Group International.
The jury in the subsequent 2006 action decided that the politician had been defamed by the newspaper and it was ordered to pay him £200,000 in damages.
Mr Sheridan was jailed for three years in January 2011 after being found guilty of lying about the now-defunct tabloid's claims that he was an adulterer who visited a swingers club.
Prosecutors in the latest trial alleged that Coulson made false claims on December 9 and 10 2010 after being sworn in as a witness in Glasgow.
The charge against Coulson alleged he falsely stated that before the arrest of private investigator Glenn Mulcaire and News of the World journalist Clive Goodman on August 8 2006, he did not know that Goodman was involved in phone hacking with Mr Mulcaire.
It claimed he falsely said he did not know that payments were made to Mr Mulcaire by Mr Goodman and he did not know of Mr Mulcaire's "illegal activities".
The Crown also alleged that Coulson was wrong when he said he did not have any email exchanges with Goodman in relation to Mr Mulcaire and falsely stated that he did not know of Mr Mulcaire, had not heard his name and did not know that he was employed by the tabloid.
Coulson pleaded not guilty to the allegations against him.