Ex-Cameron aide charged with lying

Andy Coulson, 44, Prime Minister David Cameron's former communications chief, arrives at a Scottish police station.
Andy Coulson, 44, Prime Minister David Cameron's former communications chief, arrives at a Scottish police station. (AP)
Posted: May 31, 2012

LONDON - The former top media adviser to Prime Minister David Cameron was arrested and charged with perjury Wednesday in the trial of a flamboyant former Scottish lawmaker - the latest case tied to allegations of wrongdoing by British tabloid newspapers.

Andy Coulson, 44, was detained by Scottish police at his London home Wednesday morning over an accusation related to testimony he gave in a high-profile case at Glasgow's High Court in 2010, when politician Tommy Sheridan was himself convicted of offering a false account in a legal hearing.

He arrived in Glasgow on Wednesday afternoon for questioning there, and was later arrested and charged. In Scotland, which uses a different legal system from the rest of Britain, a suspect can be detained to answer questions before being arrested or charged.

Sheridan had won a lawsuit against the now-defunct News of the World tabloid over its assertion that he was embroiled in a sex-and-drugs scandal, but was sentenced to three years in prison after a jury at the 2010 trial ruled that he had committed perjury when he sued the newspaper.

Coulson was editor of the tabloid when stories about Sheridan were published, and working as Cameron's communications director when he gave evidence to the 2010 trial.

Coulson, who left his post at the tabloid in 2007 after a reporter and a private investigator were jailed over phone-hacking offenses, had told the court that he didn't "accept there was a culture of phone hacking" at the tabloid.

He insisted that he had ordered his reporters to work within the law.

Those assurances have since been called into question by revelations of widespread illegal behavior at the paper and allegations - denied by Coulson - that he approved and encouraged the shady practices.

He resigned his government post in January 2011, saying the growing hacking scandal was distracting him from his job.

In July, he was arrested and questioned by police in England on suspicion of phone hacking and of illegally paying officials for information. That inquiry is continuing.

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