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Former top aide to British PM David Cameron charged in perjury case

Facundo Arrizabalaga / EPA, file

Andy Coulson, a former editor of Rupert Murdoch's now-defunct News of the World newspaper, later served as a spin doctor for British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Updated at 5:55 p.m. ET: LONDON -- A former spokesman for Britain’s prime minister was charged Wednesday with perjury during a high-profile court case in Scotland involving a politician -- a move that brings the Rupert Murdoch phone-hacking scandal closer to the heart of government.

Andy Coulson, who worked as David Cameron's director of communications, was held in London by detectives investigating claims he committed perjury during the trial of a politician accused of taking part in adulterous, drug-fueled sex orgies at swingers' clubs.


Coulson, 44, was transferred north from London to Glasgow, Scotland, for questioning on Wednesday, according to Britain’s Sky News.

Strathclyde Police issued a statement that said: "Officers from Strathclyde Police's Operation Rubicon team detained a 44-year-old man in London this morning under section 14 of the Criminal Procedure Scotland Act 1995 on suspicion of committing perjury before the High Court in Glasgow."

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Coulson resigned from his job as the Cameron’s chief spin doctor in January 2011 amid growing public anger over the phone-hacking scandal.

Prior to working for Cameron, he was editor of the News of the World, the now-defunct Murdoch Sunday tabloid. He resigned from that job in 2007 - also over phone hacking.

Now he is implicated in another long-running saga – that of Tommy Sheridan, a lawmaker and icon of left-wing Scottish politics.

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Coulson gave evidence in a 2010 Glasgow High Court trial at which Sheridan was jailed for three years for lying under oath during his earlier defamation action against the News of the World in 2006, STV News reported.

Jeff J Mitchell / Getty Images, file

Tommy Sheridan and his wife Gail make a statement outside the High Court in Glasgow, Scotland, on Dec. 23 2010.

Sheridan had won £200,000 in damages over an article that said he had committed adultery, visited a swingers' club and taken part in drug-fueled orgies.

Giving evidence at the 2010 trial, Coulson denied being involved in, or aware of, any illegal activities, including phone hacking, the BBC reported.

Earlier this month, Coulson appeared in front of an ongoing inquiry into press standards where he revealed he still held shares in Murdoch’s News Corp. while working as working as Cameron’s director of communications.

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