A “Psychic Agony Aunt” told Tommy Sheridan he was under “24/7” surveillance by the News of the World, a court heard yesterday.
Yasemin Urquhart, who wrote for the newspaper under the pseudonym “Ruth the Truth”, sent a series of emails to the politician, telling him the observation was “ordered by Rupert Murdoch” and advised him to “keep your head down”.
- October 28, 2016
- November 4, 2013
- September 17, 2013
The emails were shown to the Scottish News of the World editor Bob Bird during his fourth day on the witness stand at Sheridan’s perjury trial at the High Court in Glasgow.
Sheridan and his wife Gail are accused of lying during the successful action against the paper over allegations made about his private life. They both deny the charges.
The action followed the newspaper’s claims that he was an adulterer who visited swingers’ clubs.
Sheridan, a former contestant on Big Brother, won £200,000 in damages after the newspaper printed the allegations.
Following the civil jury trial at the Court of Session in Edinburgh, a police investigation was launched and the former MSP and his wife, both 46, were charged with perjury.
The jury was shown an email exchange between Urquhart and Sheridan.
The email began in June 2006 – one month before the defamation case, when she contacted him saying she was a supporter of his Scottish Socialist Party and had “information on the case the News of the World has on you”.
She told him two prostitutes and some members of his own party would be witnesses for the newspaper during the case.
She also told him she was frightened that her “family would suffer” if it was discovered she was the source of information.
Following the trial, she wrote to him again, telling him he was being watched “round the clock”.
“I would want to meet, but I know you have 24/7-round-the-clock surveillance, as ordered by Rupert Murdoch”, the email shown to the court read.
She advised him: “Just keep your head down; they’re hoping you go for one of them.”
Bird said he was unable to explain the email from Urquhart, but said he spoke to her “once or twice a week” in his capacity as the paper’s editor.
Sheridan asked him: “I’m not the only one who thought I was under surveillance?”
Bird replied: “Yes. That’s two people. You and the Psychic Agony Aunt.
“Being a Psychic Agony Aunt she did make a number of predictions that didn’t come true.”
Sheridan replied: “Yes, she said you were going to win the libel case. That didn’t come true.”
The court also heard Sheridan had reported “suspicious activity” to the police in March 2007, including the bugging of his telephone and a listening device found in his car, but the investigating officer said in a briefing shown to the jury there was “no evidence” to link this to the News of the World.
Sheridan said the News of the World was engaged in a campaign to “screw” him and “destroy” him because of his left-wing politics.
Bird replied that the paper had written only a handful of articles about him in the 10 years before the swingers’ club story broke.
He added: “Some of them were quite supportive.
“The idea that we had any campaign against you was, to quote you, ‘utter tripe'”.
Sheridan said the newspaper “made a living out of destroying lives and breaking up relationships”, which Bird denied.
Sheridan added, referring to his wife: “This is one relationship you will never break.”
The indictment against the Sheridans contains three charges in total, two of which are broken down into sub-sections.
It is alleged he made false statements as a witness in the defamation action of July 21 2006.
He also denies a charge of attempting to persuade a witness to commit perjury shortly before the 23-day trial got under way.
Gail Sheridan denies making false statements on July 31 2006, after being sworn in as a witness in the civil jury trial.
The trial, before Lord Bracadale, was adjourned until later this morning.