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Lawyer: Tommy Sheridan to be gagged

Tommy Sheridan's lawyer has accused prison authorities of trying to gag him on his release from jail.

Aamer Anwar said his client, the former Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) leader, had told him it was to be part of his conditions when he returns home from Castle Huntly open prison on Monday.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said any speaking ban would be undemocratic. He said: "Although Mr Sheridan holds views that I do not agree with I do not believe his right to express these views should be curtailed."

The Scottish Prison Service said it could not confirm or deny the allegation and would not comment on individual cases.

Mr Anwar said: "I was aware that this was being imposed. It's unprecedented, absolutely draconian and denies my client the right to earn a living."

Sheridan has served just over a year of his three-year sentence for lying under oath. The 47-year-old was jailed on January 26 last year for committing perjury during his successful defamation action against the News of the World in 2006.

Any prisoner serving a sentence of less than four years is currently eligible for automatic early release at the half-way point in their jail term. Sheridan would therefore be entitled to be freed from prison after 18 months.

However, under current provisions, it is possible for individuals to spend up to the last six months of their sentence on home detention curfew. This means that they can be freed from prison to live at home but must wear an electronically monitored tag for the remainder of their sentence.

Mr Anwar said a decision has been taken to seek a judicial review of the gagging order, if it appears in the conditions of Sheridan's release on Monday.

He said: "Once we have had a chance to check the papers, he fully intends to challenge it in the courts."

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