British PM's ex-aide charged in perjury probe

David Cameron's former communications chief Andy Coulson arrested and charged following his detention, police said.

    Andy Coulson, British Prime Minister David Cameron's former communications chief, has been charged by Scottish police on suspicion of committing perjury.

    "Strathclyde Police have arrested and charged Andrew Coulson with perjury following his detention on 30 May 2012," police said on Wednesday.

    This latest case involving Coulson is tied to allegations of wrongdoing by British tabloid newspapers.

    Earlier, Coulson, a former editor of the now-defunct News of The World tabloid, was detained at his home in London over the accusation in a case at the high court in Glasgow.

    Scottish prosecutors said Coulson was held following his appearance before the court in 2010 over a News of the World story published when he was editor.

    He was called to the Scottish court to answer questions over a front-page story about a Scottish socialist politician, Tommy Sheridan, who the paper accused of visiting a swingers' club.

    Perjury can in theory result in a prison sentence of life, although sentences of a couple of years are more typical, a spokesman for the Scottish government justice department said.

    Coulson quit as Cameron's communications director in 2011 amid revelations over phone hacking at his former newspaper.

    Critics say Cameron's appointment of Coulson calls into question his judgement in seeking to win Murdoch's backing by employing one of his most powerful journalists.

    While working for Cameron, Coulson told the court that he had no knowledge of illegal activities by reporters while he was in charge at the News of the World.

    Coulson was also detained last July over phone hacking allegations.

    He told the Leveson Inquiry earlier this month that Cameron had accepted his assurances that he knew nothing about phone hacking at the News of the World and insisted there was no "grand conspiracy" between the media empire and the Conservatives.

    "This simply reinforces the questions that are hanging over the prime minister about his judgement in appointing Andy
    Coulson in the first place," said Ivor Gaber, professor of political journalism at City University in London. 

    "We now know that lots of people warned Cameron that this might not be an appropriate move," he said.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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