Sheridan accuses editor of risking unborn baby's life

Tommy Sheridan yesterday accused the editor of the Scottish News of the World of putting the life of his unborn child at risk by printing allegations the politician had an affair.

The former MSP said a story printed in November 2004, alleging that he had enjoyed “kinky four-in-a-bed orgies” with Fiona McGuire was “tripe”, but had wrought “emotional pain” on his pregnant wife Gail.

Sheridan and his wife, both 46, deny lying under oath during his successful defamation action against the News of the World newspaper in 2006.

The action followed the newspaper’s claims that he was an adulterer who visited swinger’s clubs.

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

The trial has previously heard how McGuire was admitted to hospital after she took an overdose following the publication of the story.

Sheridan suggested the attempted overdose was caused by News of the World journalists pressuring McGuire into discussing the alleged affair.

The newspaper’s editor, Bob Bird, was being questioned by Sheridan during his perjury trial at the High Court in Glasgow.

Sheridan accused Bird of failing to secure enough evidence to prove that the story was true.

He said: “You didn’t have a single call, you didn’t have a single text message, you didn’t have a specific date connecting me with a woman who you described as totally barking, isn’t that the case, Mr Bird?”

Bird replied that he had believed McGuire’s allegations were “substantially true”.

Sheridan’s voice seemed to crack with emotion as he said: “I’ll tell you what you did know, Mr Bird.

‘You knew I was married to a stunning woman who I had known from the age of 13.

“You did know I was married to Gail and that I had been married to her for four years.

“Your newspaper covered the wedding; you knew at the time that you were splashing with this five-page exclusive that she was expecting her first child at the age of 40, didn’t you?

“You knew she was only eight weeks pregnant and at a very sensitive stage in her pregnancy.

“Did you have no sense of responsibility to the health of my pregnant wife and the emotional pain you were putting her through?

“You were prepared not only to risk the life of my unborn child to get your story, but also the life of Fiona McGuire, who was driven to try and commit suicide.

“You couldn’t care less about the lack of proof because you were blinded by your desire to bring me down and get your front page exclusive.”

Bird replied: “I think you were the one causing the emotional pain, putting her through all sorts of things behind her back.

“You shouldn’t have done that then.”

Bird also said that it was his understanding that McGuire’s suicide attempt was motivated by pressure from the SSP not to talk about the affair, rather than being hounded by News of the World journalists.

He said: “It’s not our fault that you had been unfaithful. If she had an affair with you then she had a dark secret, what better way than to release the pressure by getting it into the open.

“I still believe it was substantially true.”

The indictment against the Sheridans contains three charges in total, two of which are broken down into subsections.

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.

Mrs Sheridan denies making false statements on July 31, 2006, after being sworn in as a witness in the civil jury trial.

Sheridan later suggested he had been the subject of illegal surveillance by the News of the World.

He told Bird his details were found in possession of a private investigator who was later jailed for illegal phone tapping.

Glenn Mulcaire was sent to prison in 2007 after pleading guilty to hacking into telephone numbers.

Sheridan told the court Mulcaire worked exclusively for the News of the World and was paid up to £7,000 a story, plus his retainer fee.

Sheridan said personal details, including his mobile telephone number and address, were found in Mulcaire`s possession after a police raid at his home. Bird said he had not known this.

He asked Bird: “You are not aware, that when his house was raided they found my name, my mobile phone number, my address, two possible pin numbers and the name of my network?”

Bird said: “I was not aware of that, no.”

Sheridan asked him: “Did you or any of your staff order Mr Mulcaire to intercept my phone in any way, shape or form?”

Bird replied: “I didn’t, and to the best of my knowledge, none of my staff did,” adding that he found it “surprising” that a private investigator based in London had Sheridan’s mobile phone details.

He said: “If something was being done without my knowledge, I never saw any evidence that you were under surveillance.”

The trial was adjourned until this afternoon.

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