Police investigating allegations of phone hacking by the News of the World found no evidence that Tommy Sheridan’s mobile phone had been intercepted, a court heard today.
The politician’s mobile phone number and address were found in a notebook seized by police from private investigator Glenn Mulcaire during their inquiry into the affair between 2005 and 2006.
His details were one of several found in notebooks uncovered in a bin liner in Mulcaire’s garden shed at his Surrey home.
Mulcaire was jailed for six months in January 2007 for plotting to intercept voicemail messages, along with the News of the World’s royal editor Clive Goodman.
But Detective Chief Superintendent Philip Williams, who was senior investigating officer in the police investigation codenamed Operation Caryatid, insisted there was no evidence that Sheridan had been the subject of covert interception by the newspaper.
The ex-MSP and his wife Gail are on trial at the High Court in Glasgow accused of lying under oath during his successful defamation action against the News of the World in 2006.
The newspaper claimed 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.
Sheridan, who is representing himself during the trial, has suggested the News of the World had ordered his phone to be tapped.
But DCS Williams, who works in the specialist crime directive of Metropolitan Police, said the presence of Sheridan’s details in themselves were not evidence of phone tapping “from an investigative, evidential point of view”.
He said 2,978 phone numbers and 91 pin codes were recovered during the investigation.
He said: “The mere existence of someone’s name and address is entirely reasonable and understandable.
“I would absolutely expect to find it in the possession of anyone connected with the media. You can’t assume what purpose it was prepared for. You can’t assume it was for the purposes of interception.
“We would expect that sort of material to be there. It doesn’t mean anything unlawful was happening.
“There is nothing else in our whole investigation that connects you with anything to do with interception. You were a public figure, like a lot of other people that had names in this inquiry.”
The trial also heard from Brett Harper, a member of the SSP in Aberdeen. He said he believes Sheridan was “set up” by the state because of his opposition to the poll tax.
Harper, a social worker, told the High Court in Glasgow the former MSP was targeted because of his opposition to the poll tax.
Harper, from Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire, said he first met Sheridan as a student member of the SSP, when he organised events which the politician was to speak at.
He said: “Tommy was set up by members of the state. I believe Mr Sheridan and others on the left have been targeted and the state was involved.
“Rupert Murdoch and News International are very, very powerful, very influential, and I’ve no doubt they’ve played serious games here.”
Sheridan is accused of making false statements as a witness in the defamation action of July 21, 2006.
Mrs Sheridan denies making false statements on July 31, 2006, after being sworn in as a witness in the civil jury trial.