Andy Coulson rejects Tommy Sheridan 'phone tap' claims
Published: 10th Dec 2010 13:49:26
The prime minister's media chief has told a perjury trial he did not take a pay-off from the News of the World to keep quiet about a phone hacking storm.
The paper's former editor Andy Coulson told the High Court in Glasgow he had no knowledge of such activities and no interest in destroying Tommy Sheridan.
Mr Sheridan and his wife Gail, both 46, are accused of perjury.
They deny lying during his successful defamation action against the News of the World in 2006.
Former Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) leader Mr Sheridan won £200,000 when he took the newspaper to court after it printed allegations that he had committed adultery and visited a swingers' club.
The former MSP and his wife were charged with perjury following a police investigation.
Mr Coulson, who is Prime Minister David Cameron's director of communications, was editor of the News of the World between 2003 and 2007.
In relation to you and this case I am not aware of anything in any way shape or form that went on that was untoward”
He was giving evidence for a second day at the perjury trial.
Mr Sheridan, who is representing himself, asked Mr Coulson: "Are you the kind of editor who would ensure the stories were watertight or were you slapdash?"
Mr Coulson replied: "I would not describe myself as slapdash, it is impossible to go into every story in detail, I trust my staff."
Mr Sheridan continued by asking Mr Coulson if he remembered telling the industry journal Press Gazette that he "spent a great deal of time talking about stories and thinking them through".
Mr Coulson said: "Sure, but it is impossible to do that with every story. We try to be professional and I trust my staff. We don't get it right all the time, clearly in relation to Clive Goodman we didn't."
The former editor told the court on Thursday how he had stepped down from his job at the News of the World after one of his reporters, Clive Goodman, was convicted of phone hacking, along with private investigator Glen Mulcaire, and he felt he should take ultimate responsibility.
During later bad-tempered exchanges, Mr Coulson said he was confident the police would find no evidence that he was aware of illegal phone hacking at the News of the World.
He also denied possessing compromising information about the policeman who led the inquiry into the illegal hacking.
Mr Sheridan asked him: "Isn't it the case Mr Coulson that you knew all along about the illegal activities?"
Mr Coulson replied: "No it's not, Mr Sheridan."
The prime minister's press chief also denied that he been given a pay-off to keep quiet by the News of the World.
He said: "There is nothing I am not prepared to discuss in relation to my time at the News of the World."
Mr Sheridan also asked the witness whether he believed the prosecution was doing News International's job "in trying to destroy me".
"Certainly not," said Mr Coulson.
He added: "In relation to you and this case I am not aware of anything in any way shape or form that went on that was untoward."
Mr Sheridan then asked him: "How much money was the News of the World prepared to spend to destroy me?"
Mr Coulson replied: "I had no interest in destroying you, Mr Sheridan."
Mr Sheridan denies making false statements as a witness in the defamation action on 21 July 2006.
His wife denies committing the same crime on 31 July 2006 after being sworn in as a witness at the civil jury trial.
The trial before Lord Bracadale continues.
Harvard CitationBBC News, 2010. Andy Coulson rejects Tommy Sheridan 'phone tap' claims. [Online] (Updated 10 Dec 2010)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news.php/114681-Andy-Coulson-rejects-Tommy-Sheridan-phone-tap-claims [Accessed 18th May 2013]
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