Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 29 November 2014

Sheridan found guilty of perjury

Tommy and Gail Sheridan leave court after he was found guilty of perjury
Tommy and Gail Sheridan leave court after he was found guilty of perjury
The Sheridans embrace amid the media scrum
A crowd of supporters and the media surround the Sheridans as they leave the High Court in Glasgow

Former Scottish Socialist Party leader Tommy Sheridan is facing jail after he was found guilty of lying about an affair and visiting a sex club during his defamation case against the News of the World.

The jury of 12 women and two men deliberated for six-and-a-half hours before finding Sheridan guilty of perjury after a 12-week trial at the High Court in Glasgow.

Sheridan had been awarded £200,000 following his successful 2006 defamation action at the Court of Session in Edinburgh after the newspaper claimed he was an adulterer who visited swingers' clubs.

Sheridan, 46, was released on bail and will be sentenced on January 26. He was warned by judge Lord Bracadale to expect a prison sentence.

Speaking outside court after the verdict was delivered, Gail Sheridan, also 46, who had an allegation of perjury against her dropped last week, said: "I have and will always stand by Tommy. I would like to thank everybody from across Scotland for their wonderful support throughout the last six years that they've given to Tommy and I. Our family and our real friends, our real friends, have stood by us."

In a statement read by his solicitor Aamer Anwar, Sheridan said: "For three years my wife and I have faced charges of perjury. Today, I was convicted and Gail was acquitted of any crime.

"I have fought the power of News International all my political life and I make no apologies for taking on the might of Rupert Murdoch. Several million pounds of public money was spent investigating me and my wife. Is it not time that similar resources were devoted to investigating the activities of the News of the World?"

At the start of the trial in October, Sheridan faced 18 allegations, which were reduced by the prosecution to six. He was found guilty of five after the sixth allegation was deleted. The court heard from a succession of high-ranking members of the SSP who said Sheridan had confessed to attending a swingers' club in Manchester on two occasions.

Scottish News of the World editor Bob Bird said: "We are pleased that justice has been done and that Mr Sheridan's perjury has been proved. As is now clear, Mr Sheridan lied to a court to secure victory when he sued the News of the World for defamation in 2006.

"The News of the World has a proud history of exposing the hypocrisy and lies of the powerful. Today's verdict is a vindication of good investigative journalism. We hope and expect our successful appeal to bring an end to this matter."

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