Sheridan libel case latest: NoW branded “liars and hypocrites”

By Paul O'Hare, Scottish Press Association

Tommy Sheridan told a jury yesterday of his weakness for Scrabble and sunbeds, not champagne, cocaine and swingers' sex clubs.

The former Scottish Socialist Party leader also branded the News of the
World “liars and hypocrites” as he opened his case against the Sunday newspaper.

On day 14 of his £200,000 defamation action, Sheridan told the Court of
Session in Edinburgh he invested all his energies in fulfilling his political ideals.

He added: “I am hardly likely to have time for any secret life
of sexual Olympics.”

During a five-minute opening speech, the married MSP told the jury:
“You will hear of my addiction to Scrabble and sunbeds, not champagne,
cocaine and swingers' clubs.

“The evidence I will lead will establish the truth about me as an
individual and a socialist.

“It will establish that the liars and the hypocrites are within the
News of the World beast and that I did not have an affair with Fiona
McGuire [a party activist and former prostitute] or anyone else during
my marriage.

“I have never attended a swingers' club. I have never had sex
with a prostitute or attended a sex party in a hotel. The evidence will
show that I don't drink alcohol or snort cocaine. The evidence will
demonstrate that the real liars and hypocrites are on
the side of the News of the World, not me."

Sheridan said: "You will be familiar with a very old saying, that if
you throw enough muck some of it is bound to stick."

He recalled allegations from the NoW of group sex involving
three-in-a-bed and five-in-a-bed as well as lurid details about a trip
to a Manchester swingers' club and an orgy in a Glasgow hotel.

The teetotal politician, who sacked his legal team nine days into the
case and is now representing himself, also said he had been accused of
drinking alcohol and taking drugs.

Turning to a NoW article, published in November 2004, which said he had a
four-year affair with Ms McGuire, Sheridan told the jury: “That lie
has been at the core of the case since day one but despite three weeks
of evidence I hope
that my case to you will prove that it has not been substantiated one
iota.''

The Glasgow MSP said he denied visiting a swingers' club at a
party meeting on November 9, 2004, more than a week after the tabloid
printed lurid claims about the sexual exploits of an unnamed Holyrood
politician.
He also said the jury would hear evidence that would make it impossible
for him to have taken part in a threesome at the Moat House hotel in
Glasgow in 2002.

After his speech Mr Sheridan called SSP South of Scotland MSP Rosemary
Byrne as his first witness.

Byrne, 58, told the courts she attended the November 9 meeting which
was convened to discuss sexual allegations against its charismatic
leader.
She said Mr Sheridan admitted to the meeting that had a relationship
with News of the World journalist Anvar Khan in 1992, when he was
released from prison after being jailed for his part in the Poll Tax
protests.

Mrs Byrne, from Irvine, North Ayrshire, said: “I thought you
were very
frank. In fact I thought you were too frank, for my liking, with the
people at that meeting.”

Under cross-examination by Michael Jones QC, for the News of the World,
the MSP was asked if three of her parliamentary colleagues – SSP leader
Colin Fox and MSPs Carolyn Leckie and Rosie Kane – and other SSP
officials were lying when they told the court Mr Sheridan confessed to
visiting swingers' clubs. 

Byrne repeatedly said they were perhaps “mistaken” but would not
label them liars.

The case continues today (Tuesday).

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