Scot News of the World ed takes stand in Sheridan libel trial

The Scottish editor of the News of the World today told a jury he had not bought the story of a woman who claims she had an affair with Tommy
Sheridan.

Bob Bird told the Court of Session in Edinburgh his paper had not spoken to Katrine Trolle since November 2004.
Evidence has previously been heard that the tabloid paid £20,000 to Fiona McGuire, the former prostitute who said she had a four-year affair with the married MSP.

Bird also confirmed the News of the World signed a contract worth £14,000 with two women who claimed they saw the former Scottish Socialist Party leader taking part in a threesome in a Glasgow hotel suite.

But negotiations broke down and both women were only paid £1,000 each.

On day 19 of Sheridan's £200,000 defamation action against the Sunday
newspaper, Bird was cross-examined by the Glasgow MSP, who is representing
himself.

Sheridan put it to the witness: “How much have you agreed to pay Katrine Trolle for her story?”

Bird, 50, replied: “We have not spoken to Katrine Trolle since November
2004.”

Trolle, 31, told the jury she took part in a threesome with Sheridan
and his brother-in-law during a four-year affair with the MSP.

The Danish-born former SSP member also said she visited a Manchester
Swingers’ club with Sheridan and had sex with him in Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee.

The politician has brought the defamation action against the News of the World after it printed articles in 2004-05 which said he cheated on his wife, visited a swingers' sex club and participated in orgies.

Sheridan also cross-examined his wife, Gail, today as the final witness in his case.

Sheridan, 42, said: “I appreciate this is an unusual situation and
We know each other by first name.

“But for the purposes of the court, I'm going to refer to you as Mrs
Sheridan.”

Sheridan asked his wife, whom he married in June 2000, if he had been
candid about his previous relationships.

Mrs Sheridan replied: “Yes. I knew you had lots of girlfriends because I knew you for years. I knew half of the girlfriends you had.”

The Glasgow MSP asked the witness how she felt about the allegation that he had sex with another woman, former SSP member Katrine Trolle, in their home.

Mrs Sheridan replied: “Sick to the pit of my stomach.”

Sheridan then asked her if she believed the allegation.

Mrs Sheridan replied: “No, I do not. It is a load of absolute rubbish.
It is the worst thing that any woman can be told that another woman was in your bed with her man. I never believed it.”

Looking at her husband across a packed courtroom, she added: “I believe
you.”

Mrs Sheridan said Trolle told her she had been put under pressure by the News of the World, which believed she had had an affair with Sheridan.

Mrs Sheridan said journalists from the paper told Ms Trolle: “We will give you money to say you have had an affair with Tommy.”

When Sheridan put it to her that the Scottish editor of the News of the World, Bob Bird, had given evidence that Trolle was not offered money, Mrs Sheridan replied: “She told me she was offered money.”

The politician, who has described himself as teetotal, later questioned her about claims he had drunk alcohol.
Mrs Sheridan replied: “You would not know one end of a wine bottle from the next. If I had read tea but wine... ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous.”

MORE ON THIS STORY : 

Sign up for our free weekly digital magazine, Press Gazette Journalism Weekly, and daily newsletter
To contact Press Gazette with a story call 0207 936 6433
or email pged@pressgazette.co.uk
To advertise, please call 0207 936 6764.