Coulson fighting on three legal fronts as words come back to haunt him

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The Independent Online

When Andy Coulson, then the Prime Minister's communications director, told Glasgow High Court there was no culture of phone hacking while he was editor of the Sunday newspaper he was speaking under oath.

As well as denying that his staff participated in illegal practices, he told the jury that "to his knowledge" police officers were never paid for information by the News of the World.

It was an assured performance from a man whose time at the heart of David Cameron's government was already running out. Over two days of hostile questioning, Mr Coulson stuck to the assertion that phone hacking was the "unfortunate" work of a single rogue reporter and a private investigator.

Yesterday it was confirmed that Mr Coulson faces a possible perjury investigation over those remarks, but more immediately he is expected to be arrested this morning over suspicions that he was aware of, or had direct involvement in, phone hacking while he was editor of the NOTW.

Another concern is the investigation into a total of £100,000 that was paid to police officers by News International, as Coulson could be among senior figures implicated in the bribes.

In the perjury investigation, the Crown Office said that police in Glasgow would look again at evidence given by Coulson and two other senior figures from the NOTW, Scottish editor Bob Bird and news editor Douglas Wight, during the perjury trial of the socialist politician Tommy Sheridan last year.

A Crown Office spokesman said: "Strathclyde Police have been asked to make a preliminary assessment and to report to the Area Procurator Fiscal at Glasgow for consideration of any further action."

This week, the Information Commissioner disclosed the newspaper's cache of emails related to the case, previously claimed by News International to have been lost, had been discovered. According to Labour MP Tom Watson, these might cast doubt on the prosecution case.

Mr Sheridan's lawyer, Aamer Anwar, yesterday delivered his own dossier of evidence including trial notes of the evidence from the three journalists.

The former MSP was jailed for three years for lying in court during an earlier defamation case over a story carried by the Scottish edition of the paper that he had visited swingers clubs.

But during the ensuing perjury proceedings, it was revealed that details of his mobile telephone had been discovered in the notebook of Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator imprisoned alongside NOTW royal reporter, Clive Goodman, for hacking.

Mr Coulson, who was editor of the paper from 2003-2007, denied knowledge that phone hacking took place under his leadership while being cross-examined by Mr Sheridan.

Mr Anwar welcomed the decision to close the NOTW. He said: "It is now time that those at the top of this organisation were arrested and questioned if they are not above the law."

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