The former editor of the News of the World in Scotland said he was "sad and disappointed" to face criminal charges linked to his conduct at the time of Tommy Sheridan's defamation action against his newspaper.

Bob Bird was detained at his Glasgow home by officers from Strathclyde Police and later charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice in 2006, when Sheridan successfully sued the tabloid over a string of salacious stories about his sex life.

The allegations are the latest to emerge from Operation Rubicon – set up by Strathclyde Police in parallel to a wider inquiry into alleged criminality at the News of the World in London.

Speaking after his release, Bird said: "I just want to say I'm very sad, very disappointed that things have come to this.

"I have always done my best to do the right thing throughout the 30/40 years of my journalistic career and I will be denying the charge against me.

"On legal advice I can't say any more at the moment."

The tabloid was ordered to pay Sheridan £200,000 following the defamation action, during which it failed to prove allegations about the former MSP's private life were true.

In 2010, following a lengthy police investigation into evidence presented at the defamation trial at the Court of Session in Edinburgh, Sheridan – the former leader of the Scottish Socialist Party – was charged with perjury.

He was convicted by a jury at the High Court in Glasgow and jailed for three years in January 2011.

He was released from prison in January this year after serving one year of his sentence.

Bird is the third senior figure at the News of the World to be charged by officers from Operation Rubicon, which is probing allegations of phone hacking, data protection breaches and perjury linked to the News of the World in Scotland.

Earlier this month, Douglas Wight, 39, the tabloid's former Scottish news editor, was charged with offences connected to Sheridan's perjury trial.

In May, Andy Coulson – former editor of the Sunday paper in London and ex-communications adviser to Prime Minister David Cameron – was also charged over evidence he gave at the trial.

Last night, Gordon Dangerfield, Sheridan's solicitor, said: "It would not be right to comment on individual charges, but we have always said there was a serious and wide-ranging criminal conspiracy against Tommy Sheridan.

"We look forward to the whole truth coming out in court at last."

The Defend Tommy Sheridan Campaign yesterday claimed the charges left it untenable to argue Sheridan's conviction was "anything other than unsafe".

Sheridan was found guilty of perjury after former members of the Scottish Socialist Party testified he had confessed to attending a swingers' club.

Evidence was also heard from his former mistress Katrine Trolle.

Solicitor Aamer Anwar – who represented Sheridan until the pair fell out over a column he wrote for The Sun – said: "The police spent three years and £2 million investigating Tommy Sheridan. The Crown Office claimed the prosecution was in the public interest and that nobody was above the law.

"I have serious concerns at claims by some in legal circles that prosecutions will never be tried in Scottish courts due to cases taking place in England.

"If the Crown Office is to retain public confidence, it is essential those who are alleged to have broken the law in Scotland are dealt with robustly."

A spokesman for Strathclyde Police confirmed a 56-year-old man had been arrested and charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice in 2006.

Bird's ex-wife, broadcaster Jackie Bird, reported her former husband's arrest on Reporting Scotland yesterday.

If convicted, Bird faces up to five-years in prison if tried before a jury in the Sheriff Court or an unlimited sentence if his case is brought on an indictment before the High Court.


Bob Bird is from London and has split his 40-year career between his home city and Glasgow.

He left school to join weekly paper The Newham Recorder as a junior reporter then moved to The Sun in 1982 as a sub-editor.

Bird climbed through the News International ranks and within eight years was appointed editor of The Scottish Sun. He stayed there for eight years at the height of the circulation war among Scottish tabloids.

During this time he met Jackie Bird, then a Sun reporter, and the couple later married and had two children.

He was made deputy editor of the News of the World in London, but by 2001 was back in Glasgow after being appointed editor of the Scottish paper.

The couple are now divorced and Bird is married to Janice, a beautician.

Last July, at the height of the phone hacking scandal, Bird told staff in Glasgow the News of the World was to print its final edition.

Since then, he has been involved in PR and media consultancy work.