Court shown Sheridan interview denying tape confession

Former Socialist MSP Tommy Sheridan claimed in an interview that a video tape in which he apparently incriminates himself was created using extracts of his voice, a court was told yesterday.

The jury was shown a recording of Sheridan being interviewed on Channel 4 News after the so-called “McNeilage tape” was published by the News of the World.

The video tape apparently showed Sheridan discussing the allegations about his private life printed by the newspaper in 2004.

In it a man, said to be Sheridan, says: “If I am presented with incontrovertible evidence, I’ll put my hands up and I’ll say I am sorry and I’ll walk away.”

Sheridan’s best man, George McNeilage, has previously told the trial he secretly filmed Sheridan and later sold the tape to the News of the World for £200,000.

In the 2006 Channel 4 News interview, Sheridan is heard to say the tape was “spliced” using his voice and the voice of an actor.

But in his perjury trial at the High Court in Glasgow, Sheridan has previously claimed the tape was scripted with an actor impersonating him.

In the interview Sheridan said: “I categorically deny that I was involved in that tape.

‘They may have my voice and they may have included my voice in the tape. But then, who framed Roger Rabbit?”

Following a question from Jon Snow, Sheridan said: “I certainly was at no meeting in relation to the creation of this particular audio tape.

“At the end of the day, what they have done is they have concocted a spliced version of the tape which may include my voice but certainly includes someone else’s voice”.

Sheridan denies lying to the courts during his successful action against the News of the World in 2006, which followed the newspaper’s claims that he was an adulterer who visited swingers’ clubs.

He and his wife Gail, both 46, and from Glasgow, are accused of lying under oath during the action.

Sheridan won £200,000 in damages after the newspaper printed the allegations about his private life.

Yesterday, the trial heard from Ian Fitzpatrick, a member of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), who said he had known Sheridan since 2002.

He was shown a short extract of the McNeilage tape and asked if he believed it showed Sheridan.

He told Sheridan, who is representing himself in the trial: “Absolutely not. It’s just not you”, adding that the tone of the voice, the amount of swearing and long pauses in the speech pattern were all different to the way Sheridan spoke.

However, he acknowledged the voice was “similar”.

Another witness, Philip Stott, who said he had known Sheridan for 26 years, also told the court he didn’t believe it was Sheridan on the tape.

He said: “The voice I heard certainly was not yours. I’m absolutely certain about that.”

Sheridan is accused of making false statements as a witness in the defamation action of July 21 2006.

Gail Sheridan is accused of making false statements on July 31 2006, after being sworn in as a witness in the civil jury trial. They both deny the charges.

The trial also heard from Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) executive member Charlotte Ahmed.

She said she had not seen minutes of a meeting in which Sheridan allegedly confessed to visiting swingers’ clubs.

But the teacher from Glasgow admitted she had not looked at all the documents handed to her to read at a subsequent gathering of the party.

The disputed minutes covered an emergency meeting of the SSP’s executive on November 9 2004 about the News of the World’s allegations.

Sixteen members have previously told the court Sheridan admitted at the meeting that he was the MSP in question, and that the allegations were true.

But two defence witnesses – Patricia Smith and Rosemary Byrne – have since told the court Sheridan denied the allegations at the meeting.

Miss Ahmed told the court she had not been present at that gathering.

The SSP’s top brass met three times in the aftermath of the publication of the article about a married MSP who frequented swingers’ clubs.

On November 24, a bundle of documents was handed out to members of the executive who had to sign them in and out, the High Court in Glasgow was told.

Miss Ahmed, 50, said she had formed the impression the documents were to be destroyed following the meeting.

She said: “I didn’t see any minutes at the meeting. We were given a bundle at the beginning of the meeting.

“I looked at what was at the top, but I didn’t look through it. There was nothing that I would say was a minute.”

Sheridan showed Miss Ahmed a document purporting to be a draft minute of the November 9 meeting. She said she did not recognise it.

Advocate depute Alex Prentice QC asked her what had been in the bundle.

She replied: “A bundle of documents, most of which I didn’t look at.”

Prentice told her: “You can’t say it was not there, you can say you didn’t see it. So it may have been there.”

The trial before Lord Bracadale was adjourned until later today.

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