Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Coulson and Co in Strathclyde crosshairs

"Wanted man in Mississippi,
Wanted man in ol' Cheyenne"

The claims by former News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman that hacking was "widely discussed" at the paper obviously raises fresh legal dangers for Andy Coulson, the editor at the time and latterly David Cameron's communications strategist.

Coulson and the News of the World are in the crosshairs of police investigations in two juristicions - Scotland and England.

I'm told by sources that Strathclyde police have 42 officers working on Operation Rubicon - the force's investigation into perjury, phonehacking, data interception and bribery arising from the Tommy Sheridan perjury trial.

Appearing in the witness box at the Sheridan trial Coulson insisted he had no knowledge of illegal activities at the News of the World, like bribing police officers .

That was the day, according to Coulson himself, that he decided he could no longer carry on as David Cameron's communications strategist.

His evidence, and that of other News of the World witnesses, has been subject to complaints to the Scottish police by Sheridan's legal team.

Although Strathclyde won't confirm the numbers officially Rubicon has, by my figuring, as many if not more officers than are working on Operation Weeting, the Met police investigation into phone hacking.

Given that some London officers will have been pulled off the case to help out with the aftermath of the riots, the Scottish inquiry could well be the biggest investigation into the hacking allegations.

The thorough, clean broom, approach by Strathclyde no doubt reflects well on Stephen House, the chief constable of the force, who was approached to apply for the vacant post as the next commissioner of the Metropolitan police.

House is also in the frame to be the first chief of a new single Scottish police arising from the merger of the current eight forces. I suppose that sometimes it is okay to be wanted in more than one place.

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