Charges against News of the World chiefs dropped

Bob Bird Image copyright PA
Image caption Bob Bird was editor of the Scottish edition of the News of the World

Prosecutors have dropped charges against two former executives of the News of the World newspaper, the Crown Office has confirmed.

Bob Bird was charged with perverting the course of justice and Douglas Wight with phone hacking and perjury.

The Crown Office said that, after "an extremely thorough investigation of these allegations", no criminal proceedings would be taken.

The News of the World closed down in July 2011.

Mr Bird was the former editor of the Scottish edition of the Sunday paper and Mr Wight was the news editor in Scotland.

The pair were investigated as part of Operation Rubicon, which was launched by Scottish prosecutors and police after the newspaper closed.

The paper's owner Rupert Murdoch shut down the title after it was revealed that News of the World staff had accessed voicemail messages left on the mobile belonging to murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.

Image caption Douglas Wight was the News of The World's news editor in Scotland

Mr Bird edited the Scottish edition of the News of the World when it ran allegations about Socialist politician Tommy Sheridan's private life.

The former MSP successfully sued the newspaper for defamation in 2006 and was awarded £200,000 damages.

Mr Bird was charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice over Mr Sheridan's successful action against the newspaper.

Mr Wight was charged with perjury, conspiracy to hack telephones and multiple charges of conspiracy to obtain personal data.

A police investigation saw Mr Sheridan charged, convicted of perjury and jailed for three years after he had been found to have lied during the defamation trial. He was released after serving just over one year of his sentence.

Mr Bird gave evidence at the original defamation trial brought by Mr Sheridan in 2006 and his subsequent perjury trial at the end of 2010.

A Crown Office spokesman said: "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."

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