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"Not every lie amounts to perjury"
Coulson case collapses amid the stench of hypocrisy
Philip Stott, Socialist Party Scotland
In a farcical outcome riddled with class bias, Andy Coulson - former editor of the defunct News of the World (NoW) tabloid - saw the perjury case against him collapse at the High Court in Edinburgh last week.
Coulson was charged with perjury arising from evidence he gave during Tommy Sheridan's own perjury trial in 2010. Tommy Sheridan was Scotland's most high profile socialist. He was also a leader of the mass campaign that defeated Thatcher's poll tax.
After almost two weeks of evidence, including from former NoW journalists who explicitly stated that Coulson was central to the phone hacking scandal, the judge ruled that the case could not continue.
The ruling states that Coulson's evidence in the Sheridan trial was neither "relevant" nor "material" to Tommy Sheridan's eventual conviction and he was therefore acquitted.
This astonishing outcome stinks of hypocrisy. Particularly as Coulson, David Cameron's ex-director of communications, was given an 18 months jail sentence for phone hacking in 2014.
Indeed the judge, Lord Burns, pointed to Coulson's deceit when he reasoned that, "not every lie amounts to perjury". Under questioning in 2010 by Tommy Sheridan, Coulson denied any knowledge of phone hacking while he was editor of the NoW.
Just a few months later the Murdochgate scandal erupted in all its fury, leading to four major police investigations, the eventual closure of the NoW and the jailing of Coulson and other news editors.
Had the Tommy Sheridan perjury trial jury in 2010 known about Coulson's lead role in phone hacking, and indeed the level of criminality which was routinely practiced at the NoW, there would have been no prospect of a conviction. As it was the jury found Sheridan guilty by only eight votes to six.
Coulson's acquittal stands in stark contrast to the way in which Tommy Sheridan was treated by the police and the legal establishment in Scotland.
After winning a civil defamation case against the NoW in 2006, a major police investigation was launched into Tommy Sheridan and those who had given evidence on his behalf. More than £2 million of public money was spent by the police, which also usurped tens of thousands of hours of police officers' time.
In the longest perjury trial in Scottish legal history - the only perjury trial in Scotland arising from a civil case and at the cost of a further £2 million - Tommy Sheridan was eventually given a three year jail sentence.
As we explained at the time: "This was a trial through which the rich and powerful enemies of the working class and socialism saw the opportunity to inflict a defeat on an individual who has been a thorn in the flesh of the capitalist establishment for over 20 years."
- Tommy has called for a public inquiry into the handling of the prosecution of Coulson. An on-line petition is available on www.socialistpartyscotland.org.uk
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