Sheridan News of the World libel case perjury trial starts

The long-awaited perjury trial of former Socialist MSP Tommy Sheridan gets underway today arising from his £200,000 libel victory against the News of the World four years ago.

Sheridan and his wife Gail, both 46, from Glasgow, are accused of lying under oath during Sheridan’s successful 2006 defamation action against the News of the World. They deny the allegations against them.

The ex-MSP, a former contestant on Celebrity Big Brother, won £200,000 in damages after the Sunday newspaper printed allegations about his private life.

The trial, which is due to last between two and three months, is expected to become the longest perjury case in Scottish legal history.

It will get under way before Lord Bracadale at the High Court in Glasgow today.

The indictment contains three charges in total, two of which are broken down into a number of sub-sections.

Sheridan denies lying to the courts during his case, which followed the newspaper’s claims that he was an adulterer who had visited a swingers’ club.

It is alleged he made false statements as a witness in the defamation action on July 21, 2006.

He also denies another charge of attempting to persuade a witness to commit perjury shortly before the 23-day legal action 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 at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

The couple first appeared in a public court in relation to the allegations in July last year.

Sheridan has been one of Scotland’s most controversial and outspoken political figures over the last two decades.

He rose to prominence during the Poll Tax protests of the 1980s and was elected as a Glasgow list MSP for the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) in 1999.

He later left the SSP to establish the rival party Solidarity. Neither he nor his former colleagues were returned to the Scottish Parliament in the May 2007 elections.

In 2009, Sheridan took part in Celebrity Big Brother and was the fifth celebrity to be evicted from the house.

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