The Associated Press May 30, 2012, 06:21AM ET

Ex-Cameron aide detained over alleged perjury

The former top media adviser to Prime Minister David Cameron was detained Wednesday on suspicion of perjury in the trial of a flamboyant ex-Scottish lawmaker -- the latest case tied to allegations of wrongdoing by British tabloid newspapers.

Andy Coulson, 44, was detained by Scottish police at his home in London over an accusation related to a high-profile case at Glasgow's High Court, when politician Tommy Sheridan was himself convicted of offering a false account after he successfully sued the now-defunct News of The World tabloid over its claim that he was embroiled in a sex-and-drugs scandal.

Coulson was editor of the tabloid when stories about Sheridan were published, and gave evidence in a 2010 trial which saw the Scottish legislator jailed for three years after a jury ruled he had committed perjury when he sued the newspaper.

In Scotland, which uses a different legal system to the rest of Britain, a suspect can be detained by police to answer questions before being formally arrested.

Glasgow's Strathclyde Police said Coulson has been detained early on Wednesday "on suspicion of committing perjury at the High Court in Glasgow."

The police department said the case was tied to Operation Rubicon, a Scottish police investigation into allegations of phone hacking, breaches of data protection and perjury by newspapers. Those inquiries are running separately to major investigations by London police into newspaper malpractice.

Coulson was arrested last year by London police in their investigation into phone hacking and is currently on police bail, meaning he must return to answer more questions from detective over the allegations in the near future. He has also testified to the country's media ethics inquiry.

The former editor quit his post at the tabloid in 2007 after a reporter and a private investigator were jailed over phone hacking offenses, but later the same year was appointed as communications director to Cameron, then Britain's opposition chief.

Coulson joined Cameron in London's Downing Street after he won office in 2010, but quit in January 2011 amid new revelations about the extent over phone hacking at his former newspaper.

Glasgow police confirmed that Coulson would be taken to a police station in Scotland to answer questions about the Sheridan case.

In 2006, Sheridan won a defamation suit against the News of the World after it claimed he had visited a swingers' club, had taken part in orgies and used cocaine. However, a year after his courtroom victory against the newspaper, police arrested and charged Sheridan with perjury in connection with the hearing.

The subsequent trial riveted Scotland, with its lurid allegations about sex clubs and tabloid skullduggery.

Sheridan, who defended himself, accused the News of The World of deliberately attempting to smear him because it was opposed to his politics. The lawmaker first represented the Scottish Socialist Party in Scotland's Parliament, but later broke away to form his own Solidarity party.

As he gave evidence, Coulson insisted he had ordered his reporters to work within the law, and said that the newspaper had no axe to grind with Sheridan. "I had no interest in destroying you, Mr. Sheridan," Coulson told the 2010 court hearing,


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