Coulson may be witness at Sheridan perjury trial

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Indy Politics

David Cameron's director of communications Andy Coulson may be be cross-examined under oath in a Scottish courtroom at the perjury trial of the former Socialist MSP Tommy Sheridan, it emerged last night. The top Tory aide and ex-News of the World editor has been added to the list of defence witnesses to be called, along with Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator. Mr Coulson gave a statement to Mr Sheridan's solicitor last month.

He will be questioned by Mr Sheridan, who is representing himself. Mr Sheridan denies claims that he lied and tried to persuade another witness to lie for him during his successful 2006 defamation action against the News of the World, which had alleged he had visited a swingers' club and took part in group sex sessions.

Mr Sheridan, who later appeared on Celebrity Big Brother, was awarded £200,000 in damages when a jury found in his favour at the conclusion of the 23-day legal action. Mr Coulson was the newspaper's editor when the story, which centered on alleged visits to Manchester's Cupid's nightclub, was published.

The case at Glasgow High Court, at which Mr Sheridan's wife Gail is also accused of lying under oath to give him an alibi, resumed yesterday following an adjournment on Monday when the former Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) leader dispensed with the services of his QC, Maggie Scott, and junior counsel but retained his solicitor Aamer Anwar.

It is expected that Mr Coulson will be called to give evidence at the conclusion of the prosecution case. The trial is expected to last up to 10 weeks with more than 200 witnesses set to testify.

Mr and Mrs Sheridan deny the three charges against them which include the allegation that the former MSP lied at the original libel trial at the Court of Session in Edinburgh over sexual relationships with two women between 1994 and 2005. Gail Sheridan also denies making false statements on 31 July 2006 after being sworn in as a witness.

Yesterday the court heard a one-time party colleague claim she heard Mr Sheridan admit he visited a sex club twice. Joanna Harvie said the politician told an emergency meeting of the party's executive committee on 9 November 2004 that he had visited a sex club. Responding to questions from Alex Prentice QC, prosecuting, Ms Harvie, 33, said she was "very, very upset" after Mr Sheridan allegedly admitted he was the unnamed MSP in an earlier News of the World story who had visited swingers' clubs. She told the court: "The first main speaker was Tommy. He explained the unnamed MSP was him. He said he attended a sex club on two occasions. He said he was sorry. He said he did not know what made him do it."

Over the five days of evidence, other SSP officials also alleged that Mr Sheridan revealed he had attended Cupid's and admitted to other friends that he took part in group sex in a hotel in Glasgow. The jury of 13 women and two men was also shown excerpts from a covertly recorded video in which he is heard admitting the confession. Mr Sheridan contests the film's authenticity. The trial continues.

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