A senior Scottish Socialist Party official has lost a battle at the Court of Session in Edinburgh to keep from the News of the World a secret document about former leader Tommy Sheridan's resignation in 2004.
The ruling against Alan McCombes, SSP policy co-ordinator, who had spent three days in jail and was fined £500 for contempt over his attempt to preserve the confidentiality of the document, could provide the News of the World with vital evidence in its defence of a £200,000 defamation action by Sheridan, which will begin in Edinburgh on 4 July before a jury.
McCombes argued that releasing the document would be a breach of his human rights and would have a chilling effect on debate within political parties.
He said it was "irrelevant" to the News of the World defence, claiming that, in its court pleadings, the newspaper had brought forward "more substantial"
material than anything contained in the SSP's paperwork.
However, judge Lady Smith accepted the newspaper's argument that the document was "directly relevant" to its defence, and the interests of justice meant it should not be excluded from evidence.
She said Sheridan's credibility would be "central" in the defamation trial, and it was not difficult to understand why the paper wanted the document.
The court defeat is expected to cost McCombes up to £40,000 in legal costs and could make him bankrupt.
Sheridan is suing the News of the World over allegations surrounding his private life made in articles written in November 2004 — just days after he was forced to resign the leadership.