NoW calls Sheridan to stand in sex orgy libel trial

Press Association

Former Scottish Socialist Party leader Tommy Sheridan will be called as a witness by the News of the World in his £200,000 defamation action against
the newspaper, a jury has heard.

Michael Jones QC, for the Sunday tabloid, told the Court of Session in
Edinburgh he intended to put the married MSP in the witness box.

Mr Sheridan said he had intended to
appear in any event when he opens his own case.

The revelation came at the end of the 11th day of the defamation case,
during
which two senior SSP figures said Mr Sheridan had confessed to an emergency
party meeting that he attended a swingers club on two occasions.

His admission followed an article in the News of the World, published in
October 2004, which printed lurid details about the sex life of an unnamed
Holyrood politician.

Allan Green, the SSP's national secretary, was involved in a dramatic
exchange
with Mr Sheridan, who is representing himself after he sensationally sacked
his
legal team last week.

Mr Green, 48, attacked Mr Sheridan for his suggestion that a meeting of
senior
party officials on November 24, 2004 was designed to undermine him
completely.

An emotional Mr Green said: "For you to turn round and accuse the likes of
myself of a horrendous frame-up, it's an appalling thing for you to do."

The witness said he had devoted his adult life to the socialist movement
before continuing: “I have never done anything but give you advice in good
faith.

"For you to turn round and think you can treat me as dispensable makes me
sad. It is shameful, Tommy. Shameful."

The court heard Mr Sheridan attended meetings of the party's executive on
November 9, 2004 – when he was asked to stand down as party leader – and
five
days later.

The MSP was not present at a further meeting on November 24, when the
minutes
from the November 9 meeting were distributed.

Mr Sheridan asked the witness why he had not taken steps to let him see the
minutes, which record his shock admission, as he was not present at the
meeting.

Mr Green replied: "You had asked me to shred the minutes or keep them
confidential."

The Glasgow MSP put it to Mr Green that the minutes were "distorted and
dodgy".

He replied: "You accepted you visited a sex club on two occasions.You accepted your behaviour was reckless and you apologised for it.'"

The witness, who has been involved with the SSP since it was formed in 1998,
said the party tried in vain to get Mr Sheridan to drop his court action
against
the News Of The World.

Mr Green said: "He basically strongly rejected that suggestion, arguing a
mixture of reasons, that he was now in too deep and it would be too
expensive
for him to pull out."

Mr Green described the legal battle over the release of the minutes, which
led
to fellow SSP official Alan McCombes being jailed in May for contempt, as
preposterous.

Mr Jones asked the witness if he had shown the minutes to the MSP.

Mr Green confirmed Mr Sheridan had read them and made no attempt to deny
their
content regarding his visits to a swingers' club.

Richie Venton, the SSP's Glasgow regional organiser and national trade union
organiser, told the jury the case was a "salacious circus".

Mr Venton, 52, said he had learnt Mr Sheridan was the unnamed MSP most
probably from Mr McCombes within days of the article being published.

The witness said Mr Sheridan told the
party
executive he would deny the allegations.

He added: "It is one thing to lie to the News of the World, that is what
they
trade on, but it is another thing to lie to a court."

Mr Sheridan put it to Mr Venton that he had not admitted to the party
executive on November 9 meeting that he had been to Cupid's.

He replied: "I am sorry to say in these circumstances, and I am genuinely
sorry, but you did admit to a visit or visits to the Manchester club."

The witness said he found it "grossly insulting" when Mr Sheridan later
suggested he had either misheard or misrepresented what had happened at the
meeting.

The case continued today (Thursday).

 

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