Sheridan tells libel trial he 'prefers Scrabble to swinging'

Tommy Sheridan 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 libel action, Sheridan told the Court of Session in Edinburgh he invested all his energies in fulfilling his political ideals.

He said: “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.

“The evidence will demonstrate that the real liars and hypocrites are on the side of the News of the World, not me.

“It will establish 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.”

Sheridan added: “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 three-in-a-bed and five-in-abed group sex, as well as lurid details about a trip to a Manchester swingers’

club and an orgy in a Glasgow hotel.

The 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 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 9 November 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, Sheridan called the Scottish Socialist Party’s South of Scotland MSP Rosemary Byrne as his first witness.

Byrne, 58, told the courts she attended the 9 November party meeting which was convened to discuss sexual allegations against its charismatic leader. She said Sheridan admitted to the meeting that he 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.

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 Sheridan confessed to visiting swingers’ clubs. Byrne repeatedly said they were perhaps “mistaken”, but would not label them liars.

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