The Tommy Sheridan perjury trial may be the Scottish trial of the decade.. Tommy Sheridan, salon-tanned poster boy of the Scottish political far left, and his wife , Gail , face the start of their trial for perjury at Glasgow High Court on Monday. If previous court cases involving Tommy and Gail Sheridan are any indication then the coming perjury trial will be fascinating.
Sheridan , who later appeared in the TV reality series Big Brother, brought a successful case of defamation against the News of the World newspaper in 2006. The News of the World had printed sensational and lurid allegations of extra-marital sexual activity with a former prostitute.
The case generated even more newsprint due to the in-fighting it exposed within the Scottish Socialist Party ( SSP). Sheridan sacked his legal team during the case and then represented himself.
The former call girl at the centre of the allegations told the court that she had a four year affair with Sheridan and organised a group sex party for him. She agreed with a description of him as a Champagne and Cocaine Socialist. [ref] Sheridan's wife gave evidence in the case and defended him stoutly as the trial generated massive publicity. Finally the jury found in his favour and awarded him £200,000 damages.
Sheridan was a former leader of the SSP and the most widely known member of the party and he had earned fame as a charismatic tub-thumping leader of an anti-poll tax rebellion. However as Sheridan prepared himself for the defamation case the executive committee of the party and some of his closest allies urged him to drop it. [ ref] When the case finished with a resounding victory Sheridan claimed that he had been completely vindicated.
Not everyone was happy with the outcome of the case though or convinced that all the witnesses had been truthful.
The News of the World published a transcript, said to be of a 40-minute meeting between Mr Sheridan and George McNeilage, the best man at his wedding in 2000, In the tape Mr Sheridan appeared to admit attending Cupid’s sex club in Manchester on two occasions, something he denied in court. Sheridan claimed the tape was fictitious.
Later the police launched a perjury investigation into those who had given witness at the trial. This investigation resulted in the present charges of perjury, and attempting to persuade another person to commit perjury.
In a further twist to the story , Andy Coulson the former editor of the News of the World could well be called to give evidence in the perjury trial. Coulson, currently the Prime Ministers Director of Communications, has also been embroiled in a continuing legal saga about illicit phone tapping, of famous figures, apparently organised and paid for from within the News of the World.