Former News of the World Scotland editor Bob Bird charged with perverting course of justice in Tommy Sheridan case
BOB Bird, the former editor of the News of the World Scotland, has been arrested and charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice.
He was detained by officers from Strathclyde Police’s Operation Rubicon at 7:30am yesterday and questioned for
several hours at Govan police station.
Bird, 56, becomes the latest former News of the World employee to be charged as part of Rubicon, after former news
editor Douglas Wight, 39, and Andy Coulson, 44, David Cameron’s former spin doctor, were charged with perjury.
They both face allegations connected to Tommy Sheridan’s own perjury trial in 2010.
However, Bird has been charged in connection with the earlier defamation case, brought by Sheridan against News Group Newspapers Ltd in 2006.
The Scotsman understands from legal sources that it is connected to Fiona McGuire not appearing after she was recalled as a prosecution witness, having already given evidence.
In 2004, Ms McGuire, 38, told the News of the World she had an affair with Mr Sheridan. When the former Scottish
Socialist Party leader sued the tabloid for libel, she told a court she took part in an orgy with him and three other people.
Bird was defiant when he left Govan police station yesterday afternoon.
“I just want to say I’m really sad and disappointed that things have come to this today,” he said.
“I have always tried to do the right thing throughout my 30, 40-odd years in journalism and I will be denying the charge that has been made against me today.
“On legal advice, I can’t say any more at the moment.”
Sheridan was awarded £200,000 in damages in 2006, after successfully suing the News of the World. However, he was then found guilty of committing perjury in that trial and, in January 2011, was jailed for three years, serving one.
Supporters of Sheridan believe that conviction is becoming increasingly unsafe.
Ken Ross, chairman of the Defend Tommy Sheridan Campaign, said: “The fact that Mr Bird is now charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice over Mr Sheridan’s defamation action in 2006 – on the back of Andy Coulson and Douglas Wight being charged for committing perjury at Tommy’s trial in 2010 – shows that Tommy has been the subject of a long-standing and widespread conspiracy, which he and his supporters have long argued was the case.”
Operation Rubicon was launched on the back of a dossier handed to Strathclyde Police by lawyer Aamer Anwar and MP Tom Watson.
Mr Anwar said: “In July 2011, I provided a dossier of private information accessed by the News of the World. This dossier also contained other evidence and serious allegations of criminality against those who had worked at News of the World.”
A Strathclyde Police spokeswoman said: “Officers from Operation Rubicon arrested and charged a 56-year-old man with attempting to pervert the course of justice at the time of the defamation action of Thomas Sheridan versus News Groups Newspapers.
“A report will be submitted to the procurator-fiscal in
As well as perjury, Wight faces charges of conspiracy to hack telephones and conspiracy to obtain the personal data of members of the public.
Coulson, a former UK editor of the News of the World, who was employed as David Cameron’s director of communications after leaving the newspaper, is also among eight people charged by the Crown Prosecution Service in England and Wales, in connection with phone hacking.