"I didn't lie," Andy Coulson has told reporters outside Edinburgh High Court moments after his acquittal on perjury charges.
The former News of the World editor and government director of communications also thanked his "brilliant legal team" but branded his prosecution a "waste of public money".
The statement came as high court judge Lord Burns dismissed the charges of perjury against Coulson before they could be put to a jury. He told the court that while Coulson may not have told the truth when he was questioned about phone hacking at the 2010 trial of Scottish politician Tommy Sheridan, no evidence had been led to show him that the alleged mistruths were "relevant" enough to reach the standard required for a conviction. "Not every lie is perjury," he told the jury.
The surprise verdict has already been widely criticised. Sheridan himself told a hastily assembled press conference that the prosecution had been a "shambles" and said it was clear that Coulson had: "lied through his teeth," while his former lawyer Aamer Anwar said "The acquittal of Andrew Coulson is an unsatisfactory outcome for many whose lives were destroyed by the News of the World."
There was also widespread dissatisfaction expressed on social media with one commentator comparing the decision to drop the charges as being like: "a footballer who is clearly offside being ruled as not interfering with play".
The verdict brings to an end the lengthy legal proceedings that have faced the former editor, a: "four-year nightmare," as one of his friends put it.
The decision to drop all charges against two senior Scottish News of the World staff for alleged illegal practices appears to have brought an end to the police investigation into phone-hacking north of the border after an inquiry, Operation Rubicon, that has so far cost over £1m and not produced a single conviction.