The news broke yesterday that Andy Coulson, former bigwig at the News of the World, and latterly Director of Communications for the Prime Minister, had appeared in private at Glasgow Sheriff Court last Thursday on a charge of perjury. He made no plea or declaration and was released on bail.
Why Was His Case Dealt With In Private?
Before anyone suggests that Mr Coulson was receiving privileged treatment by having his case dealt with in private, that is in fact the required procedure for the first appearance on petition in a serious criminal case. These are always dealt with “in private”. That can mean in Sheriff’s chambers, or in a closed court, where only the Fiscal, defence agent and accused are present (along with the Sheriff and court and security staff).
The reports indicated that Mr Coulson was represented by the Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, Richard Keen QC. It is unusual to wheel out the “big guns” so early in a case like this, but sometimes “visitors” from England fail to appreciate that solicitors deal with such appearances every single day. So Mr Coulson is likely to have incurred a substantial cost for Mr Keen’s appearance (and even if he applied for and was granted Legal Aid – and there is no indication he did – the public purse would not be paying for Mr Keen’s undoubtedly excellent services). Continue reading
The BBC has reported this morning that the former editor of the News of the World’s Scottish edition has been detained in connection with the perjury trial of former MSP Tommy Sheridan. The report states that Bob Bird is being held on suspicion of attempting to pervert the course of justice over Mr Sheridan’s defamation action against the newspaper in 2006.
Strathclyde Police said a 56-year-old man had been detained in Glasgow.
Officers are investigating allegations of perjury and phone hacking as part of the Operation Rubicon probe.
Of course, Mr Bird has not yet been charged with any offence and, until a court declares otherwise, he is an innocent man. Continue reading
According to the BBC, a 39 year old mn has been detained by Strathclyde Police and subsequently charged with various offences. The detention appears to part of the Operation Rubicon investigation into allegations of phone hacking and perjury in connection with the trial of Mr Sheridan.
The BBC reported that the 39 year old man “has been charged with perjury, conspiracy to hack telephones, and multiple charges of conspiracy to obtain the (sic) personal data.”
Andy Coulson, formerly of News International and latterly of Downing Street, has already been charged in connection with te Rubicon Investigation.
Of the three witnesses from the News of the World at the Sheridan Trial, neither Mr Bird nor Mr Coulson is now aged 39. Continue reading
The Firm Magazine reported on Monday that Tom Watson MP has raised further issues about the Tommy Sheridan trial. He is quoted as saying:-
“It’s now absolutely certain that the judgment is unsound and if Alex Salmond had a shred of decency he would use all the power he has to ensure that this is urgently dealt with.
There have been key revelations about the inadequacies of the original revelations and the methodology used by the executives working for Rupert Murdoch in the Sheridan case.
It’s certain the jury would have reached another verdict if in possession of all the facts and Alex Salmond has to ask the Crown Office to investigate how on earth this case was even brought and why it went to trial.”
As my long time reader will know, I wrote a lot about the Sheridan case last year on this blog, before it became “obsessed” about an SFL3 football team. Continue reading
On the basis that, at the time of posting this piece, Andy Coulson, former editor of the News of the World and former spin doctor to the Prime Minister, David Cameron, remains detained by Strathclyde Police in Govan Police station in connection with alleged perjury in the Tommy Sheridan trial, but not yet charged with any offence, I thought I could update and revise two pieces I wrote last year regarding the issues which might be of assistance to my readers.
I will repeat here – (well actually I will repeat it lower down the page) – Mr Coulson is innocent of any crime, unless and until convicted by a court. There might even not be any criminal proceedings at all.
Part 1 – Mr Coulson’s Evidence in Detail
Perjury in the law of Scotland is the making of false statements under oath, the statements having to be competent evidence in the case in which they were made, and material to the subject of the case or investigation. There must be proof beyond reasonable doubt that the statement or statements are false and there requires to be evidence from at least two sources. Continue reading