Former News of the World Editor Andy Coulson Detained on Perjury Suspicion

Phone Hacking
Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

In April 2011, attorneys for the phone-hacking victims alleged that as many as 7,000 people had their phones tapped into by the NOTW employees who had hired private investigators, starting in 2006, to access the mobile accounts of celebrities, athletes, politicians and other people of interest. Then, in 2007 the paper's royal correspondent, Clive Goodman, was jailed for four months after pleading guilty to illegal interception of personal communication. Today, the paper's parent company News Corp. announced it would close the 168-year-old publication (its last printing will be July 10). News Corp. deputy CEO James Murdoch also admitted to paying out-of-court settlements amidst reports that some of the phones that had been hacked belonged to the family members of deceased war. The same day, former NOTW editor Andy Coulson was informed of his impending Friday arrest.

UPDATED: The former head of the shuttered paper, which was part of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. and has been at the center of the phone hacking scandal, is expected to be questioned about his testimony in a 2010 trial.

LONDON - Former News of the World editor Andy Coulson was detained on suspicion of committing perjury dating back to a 2010 trial in Scotland, in which he testified, Scottish TV network STV reported Wednesday.

Coulson ran the now-shuttered tabloid that was part of the News International U.K. newspaper unit of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. that has been at the center of the phone hacking scandal. He is also a former director of communications for British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Coulson was picked up at his London home by Strathclyde Police officers early Wednesday morning, was later formally arrested and charged before being released from police custody. He is expected to be questioned, STV said.

STV cited a police spokeswoman as saying early in the day: "Officers acting for Strathclyde Police Operation Rubicon detained a 44-year-old man in London this morning…on suspicion of committing perjury at the High Court in Glasgow." But she said it would be "inappropriate" to comment further.

Coulson was a witness in the perjury trial of former Scottish Socialist Party leader Tommy Sheridan in late 2010. Sheridan had been jailed for three years for lying under oath during his defamation process against the News of the World in 2006, in which he was awarded £200,000 ($311,000) in damages.

Coulson last year was arrested for questioning about the phone hacking case and a scandal involving payments to public officials. Earlier this month, he appeared in front of the Leveson Inquiry into media ethics.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai