North of the border the front page of the News of the World also revealed a politician sex scandal – this time involving the Scottish Socialist Party leader Tommy Sheridan.

The MSP issued a shock resignation as party leader last week saying he wanted to spend more time with his wife Gail, who is pregnant with their first child.

The Scottish News of the World claimed that Sheridan had a four-year affair with party activist Fiona McGuire. However, Sheridan has denied the claims, vowed to clear his name “until my dying breath”, and described the News of the World as a “scummy rag”.

He has appointed solicitors and is seeking an apology and substantial damages over the claims.

Scottish NoW editor Bob Bird said: “We had been working on this story for two or three months and thought this was a topical time to run it.”

In response to the legal threat from Sheridan he said: “If he sues we will defend it vigorously because we are a hundred per cent happy with our story.”

Sheridan was elected national leader of the SSP in 1999, and was the sole SSP MSP in the Scottish Parliament until five colleagues were elected last year.

By Hamish Mackay and Dominic Ponsford

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