Sheridan freed a year after NoW perjury conviction

Convicted former MSP Tommy Sheridan is due to be freed from prison today, after serving just over a year of his three-year sentence for lying under oath.

The 47-year-old was jailed on January 26 last year for committing perjury during his successful defamation action against the News of the World in 2006.

He was awarded £200,000 in damages after winning the civil case, but a jury at the High Court in Glasgow found him guilty of lying about the now-defunct tabloid’s claims that he was an adulterer who visited a swingers’ club.

Trial judge Lord Bracadale subsequently handed the former leader of the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) a three-year jail sentence, telling him his decision to pursue the Sunday tabloid for defamation “brought the walls of the temple crashing down” on him.

Sheridan will be released from Castle Huntly open prison this morning.

A statement is expected to be issued after he is reunited with his family.

At the weekend, Sheridan’s lawyer Aamer Anwar said he had been told that prison authorities would try to “gag” him on his release.

Anwar promised to seek a judicial review if a public speaking ban features in Sheridan’s release conditions.

Speaking on Saturday, Mr Anwar said: “I was aware that this was being imposed. It’s unprecedented, absolutely draconian and denies my client the right to earn a living.”

Any prisoner serving a sentence of less than four years is currently eligible for automatic early release at the halfway point in their jail term.

Sheridan would therefore be entitled to be freed from prison after 18 months.

However, under current provisions, it is possible for individuals to spend up to the last six months of their sentence on home detention curfew (HDC).

This means that they can be freed from prison to live at home but must wear an electronically monitored tag for the remainder of their sentence.

Anwar asked how his client could get back to normal life and engage in political activities if the ban is imposed.

The Scottish Prison Service refused to comment on individual cases.

‘Vendetta’

During the three-month High Court trial, Sheridan claimed that he was the victim of a “vendetta” by the police and a “conspiracy” involving the Sunday newspaper and former colleagues within the SSP.

In August last year, he was denied the chance to appeal against his conviction, following a ruling by senior judges.

Sheridan’s trial was one of the longest of its kind in Scottish legal history. He was convicted of five of six allegations in a single charge of perjury, relating to his evidence during the civil action at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

Sheridan’s wife Gail, who vowed to stand by her husband, insisted last year: “The real reason why he’s been imprisoned is because he has fought injustice and inequality with every beat of his heart.

“But it won’t be long before Tommy is back stronger and continuing the fight.”

Sheridan told the Daily Record today that she was “in shock” when nine police officers arrived with a warrant to search her home on December 16 2007.

She said her then-two-year-old daughter Gabrielle had been “hysterical” and “crying uncontrollably” before her sister Gillian arrived at the family home to take her away.

Mrs Sheridan said: “I was in shock. But I thought they would just find what they were looking for and leave.

“In the meantime, all I knew was that Gabrielle couldn’t be there.

“At one point, I feel to my knees and I was crying.”

Sheridan also told the newspaper that she had never doubted Sheridan, and neither had any of their friends and family.

She said Sheridan told her the story in the News of the World was lies and she believed him.

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