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Tommy Sheridan trial: Cameron's spin doctor let off the hook
AS THE perjury trial of former socialist MSP Tommy Sheri-dan and his partner Gail neared its conclusion, the former editor of the News of the World (NoW) tabloid, Andy Coulson, gave evidence in court.
Coulson, who is now David Cameron's Downing Street spin doctor, was editor of NoW during the original defamation trial in 2006 when Tommy Sheridan successfully sued the Murdoch-owned tabloid. Coulson's editorship also covered the period when a NoW journalist, Clive Goodman, was jailed for illegal phone-hacking activities.
Coulson has denied any knowledge of illegal phone-hacking of public figures and that such practices were sanctioned by the newspaper - a claim contradicted by former NoW journalists, including Sean Hoare who repeated the allegation in the New York Times this year. Interviewed on BBC Radio 4, Hoare called Coulson's statement to a parliamentary committee denying that he knew about the phone hacking in his newsroom "a lie."
In the light of this allegation the Crown Prosecution Service initiated a criminal investigation, only to drop it during the current trial when Coulson was being cross-examined by Tommy Sheridan in the witness box.
Tommy had questioned Coulson over the relationship between the NoW and Andy Hayman - the police officer leading the investigation into phone-hacking practices by the paper.
Coulson revealed that when the NoW offices were raided by police in 2006, incredibly, his desk wasn't searched. Subsequently, after leaving the police, Hayman became a columnist for The Times - another paper owned by Murdoch's News International group. "Do you not agree it stinks of corruption that a senior Metropolitan police officer leaves and gets a job at News International?", Tommy asked.
Coulson also denied Tommy's accusation that the NoW held personal information on Hayman which prevented him from carrying out a full investigation of the phone hacking.
To many labour movement activists, Tommy's trial reeks of double standards from the police and state prosecution. They have spent millions of pounds from public funds and sanctioned thousands of hours of police time to persecute a well-known socialist fighter.
Meanwhile, they appear to ignore the mounting evidence from ex-NoW employees. The police should pursue a serious criminal investigation against spin-doctor Coulson and his former paymasters. The trial continues.
An article on the trial outcome will be posted on www.socialistparty.org.uk
In The Socialist 15 December 2010:
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party youth and students