Sunday 10 July 2011

Former News of the World editor Andy Coulson has hired one of Scotland's top QCs, it has emerged.

It is understood Paul McBride QC has been approached by Mr Coulson.

Scottish police have been asked to look at evidence given by witnesses in the Tommy Sheridan perjury trial last year.

Mr McBride represented Gail Sheridan, the wife of the former Scottish Socialist Party leader, in the trial.

She was acquitted of lying to the courts in her husband's successful defamation action against the News of the World in 2006.

Sheridan was ultimately jailed for three years in January after being found guilty of perjury.

Mr Coulson testified, along with the editor of the Scottish News of the World Bob Bird and reporter Douglas Wight.

Mr Coulson, then Downing Street director of communications, told the trial in December that he had no knowledge of illegal activities by reporters while he was editor of the newspaper. He also claimed: "I don't accept there was a culture of phone hacking at the News of the World."

Strathclyde Police has been asked to make a "preliminary assessment" and report to the Area Procurator Fiscal at Glasgow for consideration of any further action. Police have also been asked by prosecutors to consider specific claims of phone hacking in Scotland.

Mr McBride was called at the Scottish Bar in 1998, at the age of 22 and became the youngest QC appointed in the UK at 35. He is one of the most highly regarded and highest-profile criminal lawyers in Scotland, and was involved in the Nat Fraser murder trial, the Moira Jones murder trial and the Rosepark fatal accident inquiry, as well as representing Celtic Football Club