David Cameron’s former spin doctor Andy Coulson was charged with perjury last night (Wednesday) over evidence he gave on oath while working for the Tories.
Coulson was arrested and charged by Strathclyde Police over allegations he lied during the perjury trial of Scottish socialist politician Tommy Sheridan in 2010.
Coulson was astonished at his arrest, apparently telling officers at his home in London, “This is not how it normally works down here.”
That means the number of Cameron’s close friends who have been charged or questioned over perjury or conspiring to pervert the course of justice is growing fast.
They include Cameron’s old school pal Charlie Brooks, who is married to Cameron’s closest media ally Rebekah Brooks, and now Coulson as well.
When Coulson was editor of the Rupert Murdoch-owned News of the World, the newspaper ran a story about Sheridan’s private life.
Tommy sued the paper for libel and won damages of £200,000. Police then spent millions on a major investigation that led to Tommy and his wife Gail being charged with perjury.
Tommy was convicted of perjury. In response to Coulson’s arrest, Tommy said, “We were led to believe by Mr Coulson and his acolytes at News International during my trial and the initial phone-hacking investigations that the problem was a rogue reporter. It’s the equivalent of a bad apple in the barrel.
“Well, I think we all know now that there is no bad apple in the barrel, what there is is a rotten orchard full of bad apples.”
During his trial Tommy argued that he had been a victim of a politically motivated vendetta carried out by News of the World with the help of the Scottish police.
Tommy said, “Hopefully Mr Coulson won’t be lonely but he will be joined by colleagues in the future.
“I firmly believe that today marks the first in the journey towards the quashing of my conviction, which was unsafe and unsound.”
Tommy’s name and mobile phone details appeared in the notes of convicted phone hacker Glen Mulcaire. Yet a succession of News International executives trooped into court and denied the newspaper would ever do such a thing. They claimed that emails relating to the case had been “lost”.
After the trial the emails were “found”
Coulson denied under oath that he had any knowledge of phone hacking or of payments to corrupt police officers. He said, “I’m saying that I had absolutely no knowledge of it.
“I certainly didn’t instruct anyone to do anything at the time or anything else which was untoward.”
Labour MP Tom Watson said, “The detention of Andy Coulson further highlights why Mr Sheridan’s conviction was unsound.
“It is now abundantly clear that members of the jury were not in full possession of the facts.
“If they knew what the police now know, it seems impossible not to conclude that Mr Sheridan would be a free man.”