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HMA v. Coulson

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The former editor of the News of the World and director of communications to Prime Minister David Cameron was charged with perjury, arising out of evidence given in a trial at Glasgow High Court.  The proceedings were closely connected to the ‘phone hacking’ trial at the Old Bailey in London.

A dedicated team was assembled to deal with the Scottish case, led by Gerard Brown and Stuart Munro.  The work included liaising with the client’s English advisers, ingathering an analysing complex evidence, securing access to certain disclosed materials through an application direct to the English court under the relevant disclosure legislation, media monitoring and making detailed representations to the prosecution authorities.  Following the Scottish indictment being served, a series of preliminary minutes were lodged with the court.  The team assisted counsel in preparing submissions and evidential materials (which were presented using the latest technology).  Regular consultations took place in London and elsewhere.

A range of legal issues were argued at a preliminary stage, including relevance and materiality.  At the conclusion of the Crown case, the court upheld a no case to answer submission on largely the same basis as intimated at the preliminary stage.  The case attracted a huge level of media interest.  Following his acquittal, Mr Coulson was keen to thank his lawyers for the work done to bring the case to a successful conclusion.

The case involved a large number of novel and complex points. There was a need for media monitoring, representations to the Crown about inappropriate reporting, and submissions about the need for orders under the Contempt of Court Act. Legal issues including the use of business document certification, legal professional privilege, Parliamentary privilege, use of emails as secondary hearsay, and relevance and materiality were all the subject of detailed argument (and, in some cases, appeal).


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About us

Livingstone Brown is a leading firm of Scottish solicitors. Based in Glasgow, but dealing with cases around the country, the firm has been at the forefront of legal service provision for over thirty years.

If you have a legal problem, getting good quality legal information at the earliest stage can be invaluable. The firm offers a free initial enquiry service; all you have to do is call in, telephone, or e-mail. You won't be charged for your enquiry; we'll let you know by return whether we can help, what we can do, and how much it's likely to cost. We can also offer legal aid where available.

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Led by former senior partner Gerard Brown CBE, who continues as a consultant, the firm has built up an enviable reputation for quality of service and client care.

The firm has won various awards over the years. In the 2019 edition of the prestigious Legal 500 rankings Livingstone Brown was ranked as a 'top-tier' firm for general criminal work, and is also recommended for fraud cases. Stuart Munro and Gerard Brown were named as 'Recommended Lawyers'. In the Chambers directory the firm has a Band 1 ranking for criminal work, and Stuart Munro is a ranked financial crime lawyer. The firm was named Criminal Defence Firm of the Year and Family Law Team of the Year at the Scottish Legal Awards 2019.

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  • Chambers UK 2021 Livingstone Brown 121x102
  • legal 500 leading firm
  • Legal 500 Leading Firm 2022 Livingstone Brown 71x103
  • Scottish Legal Awards Winners 2021