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Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Former News of the World Editor arrested in dawn raid on his London home

 

PR man: Andy Coulson was held today by Strathclyde Police,David Cameron’s former No 10 spin doctor Andy Coulson was arrested today on suspicion of committing perjury.

Mr Coulson, 44, was detained at his home in Dulwich at 6.30am by seven officers from Strathclyde police and taken to Glasgow where he will be questioned.

The case centres on claims that he misled a court about his knowledge of phone-hacking during a criminal trial in Glasgow. The former News of the World editor, hired by the Prime Minister as his director of communications, told a court in 2010 that he had no knowledge of illegal voicemail interception when in charge of the tabloid.

During the perjury trial of former Scottish MP Tommy Sheridan, Mr Coulson said: “I don’t accept there was a culture of phone hacking at the News of the World.” He also denied knowing that the

 newspaper paid corrupt police officers for tip-offs. Mr Cameron has faced questions over his decision to bring Mr Coulson into the heart of government. Mr Coulson has already been arrested by the Met on suspicion of phone-hacking and bribing public officials.

The perjury charge, which carries a maximum prison sentence of seven years, is potentially the most serious facing the former Conservative Party spokesman.

One Downing Street source said the arrest came as a “complete surprise”.

Mr Coulson was a major witness in a trial involving Sheridan who was accused of lying in court during a libel victory against the NoW.

Coulson was editor when it published a story that labelled Sheridan an adulterer who visited swingers’ clubs. He was called as a witness and told the court that he had no knowledge of illegal activities by reporters.

Sheridan was jailed for three years last year after being found guilty of perjury during his 2006 defamation action against the NoW. He had successfully sued the newspaper over its claims.

Strathclyde police announced its probe into Mr Coulson last July but it was thought to be taking a back seat as five major Scotland Yard inquiries into the Murdoch media empire rumbled on.

However, the Standard can disclose that officers from Scotland recently visited London to interview several former NoW staff about their old boss.

Under Scottish law a suspect is detained on suspicion of an offence unlike in England and Wales where a suspect is arrested. Mr Coulson has not been charged.

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