NoW hacking row: Tommy Sheridan trial evidence reviewed
- 7 July 2011
- From the section Glasgow & West Scotland
Witness statements at the Tommy Sheridan perjury trial are to be probed following new allegations in the News of the World phone hacking scandal.
The Crown Office has asked Strathclyde Police for a "preliminary assessment" and to hand any findings to prosecutors for possible further action.
Three News of the World journalists gave evidence at the trial, including former editor Andy Coulson.
Sheridan was jailed for lying during his successful defamation case in 2006.
He was found guilty at the High Court in Glasgow in December of committing perjury during his case against the News of the World.
The newspaper had claimed that the socialist politician was an adulterer who had visited a swingers' club.
During the perjury trial, allegations were raised by Sheridan that his mobile phone was hacked into by private investigator Glenn Mulcaire.
He was jailed in 2007, along with the newspaper's royal editor, Clive Goodman, for intercepting voicemail messages left for members of the royal household.
Copies of Mulcaire's notebook, showing Sheridan's details, were produced during the perjury trial.
Mr Coulson, who was then Prime Minister David Cameron's director of communications, gave evidence that he had no knowledge of illegal activities, including payments to police officers.
Scottish editor Bob Bird also denied being part of an "illegal culture of phone-tapping".
Both men were questioned by Sheridan, who represented himself during the trial.
The former MSP also suggested that the News of the World's news editor, Douglas Wight, who also gave evidence, had used the services of another private investigator, Stephen Whittamore, 70 times.
On Tuesday, the newspaper's publisher, News International, passed e-mails to the Metropolitan Police which, it is said, show that payments to police officers had been authorised by Mr Coulson when he was News of the World editor.
That development prompted Labour MP Tom Watson to question Sheridan's conviction.
During an emergency Westminster debate on the News of the World phone hacking scandal on Wednesday, he said: "I think the Sheridan trial was unsound and may need to be revisited."
At a news conference, Mr Watson and Sheridan's lawyer, Aamer Anwar, called for police to investigate News of the World witnesses at the perjury trial.
Mr Anwar urged Strathclyde Police to contact people in Scotland who he said may have been subjected to illegal activities by the News of the World, and to cross reference these details with the phone hacking inquiry being conducted in London.
He said: "If for years there has been a culture whereby corrupt police officers and News of the World journalists have had an utter disregard for the law and have destroyed people's lives then they must now be held to account if they are not above the law."
Mr Watson said: "Two days ago News International briefed the press that they had handed over documents to the Metropolitan Police that showed Andy Coulson had authorised payments to police officers for information.
"Last December in Tommy Sheridan's trial he denied any knowledge of those payments.
"Either Andy Coulson or News International did not tell the truth."
Both men submitted a dossier to police outlining "serious allegations" about News of the World witnesses.
Meanwhile News International has announced that this Sunday's edition of the News of the World will be the last.