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Downing Street spin supremo dragged into Sheridan case

The Prime Minister’s chief spin doctor has spoken to lawyers for Tommy Sheridan who are preparing to defend him in his perjury case.

Andy Coulson, the Downing Street director of communications, gave a precognition following a request by Sheridan’s legal team.

He may now be asked to appear as a witness at a trial that begins next week.

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Sheridan and his wife Gail were both charged with perjury in connection with evidence they gave in a previous defamation case.

In 2004, the News of the World claimed the former Scottish Socialist Party leader had cheated on his spouse with a former prostitute. Sheridan was awarded damages of £200,000 two years later after successfully suing the newspaper in a high-profile civil dispute.

However, police then launched a probe into whether lies were told by any of the witnesses during the trial.

Following a lengthy investigation, Sheridan was charged with perjury and trying to persuade someone else to commit perjury.

His wife was charged with one count of telling lies under oath.

The Sunday Herald understands that Coulson, who is Cameron’s most senior aide, gave a precognition earlier this month to Sheridan’s representatives in London.

A precognition is a statement taken from a potential witness before a case goes to trial.

Coulson was editor of News of the World when the tabloid published allegations about the left-wing politician’s private life.

The former journalist quit as editor of the newspaper in 2007 after one of his reporters was jailed for illegally hacking into mobile phones.

Coulson has since faced questions about the extent of phone-tapping during the period of his editorship.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph yesterday, the Prime Minister hit out at critics of Coulson who wanted him to stand down.

“People are trying to punish him twice for the same offence.”

The perjury trial, which begins on October 4, is scheduled to last for 50 days.

Neither Downing Street nor Conservative Central Office offered comment.

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