7 Jul 2011

Coulson evidence adds another twist to NoW saga

Former No 10 communications chief Andy Coulson (Getty)For some time, Andy Coulson’s friends have said that the Tommy Sheridan trial was the moment he realised he had to leave his job as Head of Communications at Downing Street.

A whole week last December was given over to non-Government business, preparing for and appearing in court, the distraction from the main job etc…that, we have been repeatedly told, was the moment and the reason Andy Coulson felt he had to quit his job at David Cameron’s side and at  the heart of the Government operation.

Strathclyde Police have just been given a file which includes a transcript of what Andy Coulson said in court on oath.

Tommy Sheridan (acting for himself) asked Andy Coulson: “Did the News of the World pay corrupt police officers?”

Andy Coulson: “Not to my knowledge”.

A couple of days ago News International revealed that it had sent e-mails to the police which showed Andy Coulson, when he worked at the News of the World, authorised payments to police officers.

Andy Coulson might say that the word “corrupt” was what he was addressing. He had, in the past,  in evidence to a Select Committee,  said the News of the World didn’t engage in illegal payment. But if a court decided Andy Coulson perjured himself while serving as No 10 communications chief, that would put No 10 very close to very serious allegations.

It might also, some might think, explain why Andy Coulson decided he would have to leave his job straight after his appearance in court.

All this would, if true, spawn many questions on just how much David Cameron knew about what had gone on in the past and what had passed between him and Andy Coulson in private conversations about why exactly Coulson felt he had to leave his job at the Prime Minister’s side.

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