Alex Massie

Andy Coulson’s Day in Court

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Though the London press has barely noticed the fact, it's possible that Andy Coulson will be in court later this month at which point, presumably, he will be asked, under oath, about the News of the World's newsgathering methods. Coulson may be asked to testify during Tommy Sheridan's perjury trial.

This may just be a publicity stunt but the defence - for Coulson will be called by Sheridan's legal team - will presumably have something to say about the News of the World and its "techniques". Coulson, as editor at the time, is an obvious witness to call in this regard and, if my understanding of the law is correct, can be compelled to attend court against his wishes.

The entire case promises to be magnificently entertaining. The Screws, you will recall, had alleged that Sheridan was an adulterer and frequent visitor to swingers clubs. Indeed, at times it seemed as though half the SSP were, literaly, Tommy's Groupies. At least one SSP candidate was said to have been seen having a threesome with Sheridan and Sheridan's brother-in-law.

In all, the News of the World produced no fewer than 18 witnesses testifying that they had a) had sex with Sheridan while he was married, b) seen him having group sex or c) heard him admit visiting swingers clubs. (The Wikipedia account of the case is pretty good.)

Naturally, then, the jury found for Sheridan and he was awarded £200,000 in damages. Equally naturally, it was evident that given the peculiars of the case a perjury investigation was bound to follow.

And so this is the next chapter: HM Advocate vs Sheridan, due to begin entertaining the public later this month.

As for Coulson, it may be that he has nothing to fear from appearing in court. But trials are funny things and, frankly, if I were him I'd want as little to do with the Sheridan case as possible. At the very least there's the potential for trouble and mischief...

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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