Andy Coulson perjury trial starts in Edinburgh

Andy Coulson's perjury trial is set to begin in Edinburgh. Picture: Hemedia
Andy Coulson's perjury trial is set to begin in Edinburgh. Picture: Hemedia
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FORMER News of the World editor Andy Coulson has gone on trial at the High Court in ­Edin­burgh accused of perjury.

He is accused of lying under oath during the 2010 perjury trial of former MSP Tommy Sheridan.

“It would be wrong for you to be influenced in any way”

Judge Lord Burns

Coulson, 47, former director of communications for Prime Minister David Cameron, denies the allegations against him. The trial is set to last four weeks.

Prosecutors allege Coulson, from Kent, made false claims in December 2010 while he was a witness at the trial at the High Court in Glasgow, almost four-and-a-half years ago.

The indictment alleges that Coulson falsely stated that, before the arrest of private investigator Glenn Mulcaire and NoTW journalist Clive Goodman in 2006, he did not know that Goodman was involved in phone hacking, and did so together with Mulcaire.

It claims he falsely said he did not know that payments were made to Mulcaire by Goodman and that he did not know of Mulcaire’s “illegal activities”.

It also alleges that Coulson said he did not have any e-mail exchanges with Goodman in relation to Mulcaire.

The Crown further alleges Coulson falsely stated he did not know of Mulcaire, had not heard his name, did not know that he was employed by the NoTW, and did not know that Nine Consultancy was Mulcaire.

It is claimed Coulson falsely said he had no knowledge of payments being made to corrupt police officers by staff of the now defunct NoTW while he was employed as an editor there.

Prosecutors allege between 2005 and 2006, Coulson had heard of Mulcaire who, as well as being a private investigator, was contracted to the NoTW.

They allege he knew Goodman was involved in phone hacking and knew that he did so together with Mulcaire.

The three-page indictment claims Coulson knew that Goodman made payments to Mulcaire of £500 a week until 2006, followed by payments amounting to £4,800.

The prosecution also alleges that Coulson knew Mulcaire was employed by the NoTW and had e-mail exchanges about him with Goodman, in which Mulcaire was referred to as “Matey”.

It is claimed Coulson knew Nine Consultancy was the business name under which Mulcaire operated and knew of his “illegal activities” insofar as they related to phone hacking.

It is also alleged that between 2002 and 2007, while editor and deputy editor of the newspaper, Coulson understood that payments had been made to corrupt police officers by Goodman.

The payments included £750 in 2002, £1,000 in 2003, and £1,000 in 2005.

These were made to procure a “green book” or other similar directories containing information including phone numbers relating to the Royal Family and their staff, the indictment states.

Judge Lord Burns told the jury of nine men and six women yesterday that Coulson was the former director of communications for the Prime Minister.

He said there had been a “great deal of information” about ­Coulson, Sheridan and the subject matter of the charge in a variety of media and online.

But he reminded the jury they had taken an oath to try the accused “solely and exclusively” upon the trial’s evidence.

That means they must “ignore” and put out of their minds any information from any other sources, he said, including from the television, newspapers, magazines and the internet.

“You also have to put aside any view you may have formed about any issues raised in this charge,” Lord Burns said.

The judge said they may have formed views about Sheridan or the accused “and their activities, political or otherwise”.

But he added: “It would be quite wrong for you, as a jury, to be influenced in any way by such views or opinions.”

Following articles about him in the NoTW, Sheridan raised a defamation action against its publishers. A jury in the 2006 defamation action decided the socialist politician had been defamed and the tabloid was ordered to pay him £200,000.

The trial will continue on Tuesday.