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Coulson 'to contest' perjury claims

Andy Coulson will "vigorously contest" perjury allegations against him if they are ever brought to trial, a lawyer for David Cameron's former communications chief has said.

Mr Coulson was charged by Strathclyde Police on Wednesday night over allegations that he committed perjury during the trial of former MSP Tommy Sheridan.

A report is to be sent to the procurator fiscal which will decide if the 44-year-old ex-News of the World editor will face court proceedings.

In a statement, his solicitor Jo Rickards of law firm DLA Piper said: "Andy Coulson will vigorously contest the perjury allegations made against him yesterday by Strathclyde Police, should they ever result in a trial. We have no further comment at this stage."

Mr Coulson was detained at his London home early on Wednesday and taken to Glasgow for six hours of questioning at Govan police station. Strathclyde Police then announced that he had been arrested and charged with perjury.

A Crown Office spokesman said there was no legal obligation for him to stay in Scotland, and that he was free to return to his home in London. No date has been set for any court appearance.

Mr Coulson gave evidence at Sheridan's perjury trial at the High Court in Glasgow in December 2010, while he was employed by 10 Downing Street as director of communications.

At the trial, he claimed he had no knowledge of illegal activities by reporters during the time that he was editor of the now-defunct newspaper. He said: "I don't accept there was a culture of phone hacking at the News of the World."

Sheridan was ultimately jailed for three years in January last year after being found guilty of perjury during his 2006 defamation action against the News of the World. Sheridan was released from jail in January this year after serving one year of his sentence and vowed to continue the fight to clear his name.

Mr Coulson resigned as editor in 2007 after the paper's former royal editor Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire were jailed for phone hacking. In May that year he was appointed director of communications and planning with the Conservative Party.

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