Let’s get the preliminaries out of the way:
1/ People are innocent until proven guilty, and that applies to Andy Coulson as much as to anyone else.
2/ I believe Tommy Sheridan perjured himself in court in December 2010; in my opinion anyone who doubts that must be blinded by irrational loyalty to Sheridan and/or willful disregard of the evidence.
Having said all that, it’s good to see Cameron’s former director of communications being held to account for (allegedly) lying on oath about his knowledge of phone hacking at the News of the World while he was the editor.
What I fail to understand, and I invite readers with a more sophisticated grasp of the law (specifically Scottish law) than mine to explain, is how these allegations against Coulson, even if proven, show that Sheridan’s conviction is unsafe (something that his supporters and Tom Watson MP are claiming).
The allegation against Coulson is that when he was called as a defence witness, by Sheridan, to give evidence at the 2010 trial, he lied about his knowledge of the hacking operation carried out against Sheridan by Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator hired by the News of the World.
Sheridan was convicted by a majority verdict at the High Court over his evidence, in which he’d denied lying to former comrades in the Scottish Socialist Party about his private life when he sued the News of the World in 2006 for libel.
Even if charges are brought against Coulson (they haven’t been yet) and a court finds him guilty, how does that call into question, in any way, the perjury conviction against Sheridan? How would it be relevant to the specific grounds on which Sheridan was found to be guilty? This has yet to be explained. Or rather, the only explanation so far offered by Sheridan supporters, simply doesn’t make sense: they say that a conviction for perjury requires not only someone to have lied on oath but for the lie to have materially affected the outcome of the trial. If that is so (and at least some people with knowledge of Scottish law disgaree), then it seems highly unlikely that Coulson will be convicted.
The other fairly obvious point that Sheridan’s supporters seem to have ignored is this: is it not possible that Sheridan and Coulson both committed perjury?