After three years of 'hell', former Scottish News of the World editor heard via media that charges were dropped - Press Gazette

After three years of 'hell', former Scottish News of the World editor heard via media that charges were dropped

Two former News of the World journalists found out they had been cleared three years after their arrests via the media.

Press Gazette understands that neither former NoW Scotland editor Bob Bird (pictured) nor former news editor Douglas Wight have been formally contacted by the Crown Office or the Scottish police.

Both will have to pick up their own legal bills after being cut adrift by their former employer after losing their jobs following the closure of the NoW in July 2011.

They were arrested in August 2012 as part of Police Scotland's Operation Rubicon, an inquiry into allegations of phone-hacking, breach of data protection and perjury in the Tommy Sheridan trial.

Bird was charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice at the time of Sheridan's defamation action against the newspaper in 2006 and Wight was charged with committing perjury during Sheridan's 2010 perjury trial and with conspiracy to hack telephones.

Press Gazette understands that the charges were driven in part by evidence provided by Sheridan's lawyers.

Speaking to the Sunday Herald, Bird has denied anyknowledge of phone-hacking at the NoW's Scottish newsroom.

He said: "Just to be clear, whatever went wrong in London regarding this didn't extend to Scotland. We never hacked phones in Scotland."

News that the two were cleared emerged after the collapse of the Andy Coulson perjury trial last week.

Coulson was accused of giving misleading evidence during the Sheridan perjury trial, but the case collapsed because the judge said Coulson's evidence was not relevant to the outcome of the 2010 case.

Bird and Wight were charged at the time of their arrests and have since been awaiting a trial date. Unlike the English system, they did not spend a period on police bail.

Bird told the Sunday Herald that the last three years of his life have been "hell" and that his career has been on hold.

He said he had written to his former employer – which paid all of Coulson's legal bills – to enquire about help with his costs.

"I wrote personally to people in positions of authority in News International three or four years ago and received no reply. I guess I'm stuck.

"Morally, I think they should have supported me."

Tommy Sheridan was jailed for perjury in 2010 after the News of the World produced evidence which proved he lied during the course of a 2006 libel trial against the paper.

Sheridan was awarded £200,000 in damages in 2006 after suing over a story which alleged he was an adulterer who visited a swingers club.

The Scottish Crown Office said in a statement last week: "The Procurator Fiscal received reports concerning Douglas Wight and Robert Bird, in connection with alleged offences between February 1995 and November 2010 and July 2006 respectively.

"After an extremely thorough investigation of these allegations, Crown Counsel decided that no criminal proceedings be taken."

Last month, charges were also dropped against The Scottish Sun's assistant editor Gill Smith, who had been reported to prosecutors over alleged breaches of the Data Protection Act.

A Crown Office spokesman said: "The Procurator Fiscal received a report concerning Gill Smith, in connection with alleged offences in 2000 and 2001.

"After full and careful consideration of the facts and circumstances of the case, the Procurator Fiscal decided that no criminal proceedings be taken."



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