Six Sheridan allegations dropped as trial nears close

Six allegations of perjury against former Scottish Socialist Party MSP Tommy Sheridan were dropped yesterday as the trial entered its closing stages.

Prosecutors told members of the jury at the High Court in Glasgow that the deletion of significant parts of the indictment would assist them as they prepare to consider their verdict.

Evidence in the long-running trial came to an end on Friday when a perjury charge against Sheridan’s wife Gail was withdrawn.

The politician remains accused of lying during his successful defamation action against the News of the World in 2006.

He was awarded £200,000 following the civil case he launched after the Sunday tabloid printed an article claiming he was an adulterer who visited swingers’ clubs.

Sheridan originally faced more than a dozen claims of lying under oath at the start of the trial.

Five allegations, one of which was broken down into two sections in the indictment, were withdrawn yesterday and six now remain.

The former SSP convener is accused of lying about statements he made during a meeting on November 9, 2004.

It is also claimed he lied about an alleged trip to a sex club in Manchester and about having sexual relationships with Anvar Khan and Katrine Trolle.

Beginning his closing speech, Advocate Depute Alex Prentice QC told the jury that although there were no victims, such as there are in cases of murder or rape, perjury was a serious crime nonetheless.

He said: “The charge is one of perjury. That is a serious crime for the simple reason that our whole system of justice falls apart if perjury is acceptable behaviour.

“It is not acceptable and should never be acceptable in a mature and dignified democracy.

“If we let perjury pass without action, we let ourselves down.”

Prentice told the jury that the move to drop the charges was designed to assist them by allowing the remaining issues to be “sharply focused”.

He also raised the question as to why witness Barbara Scott took hand-written notes of the meeting of November 9, 2004, to police at the conclusion of the civil case in 2006.

It was at that gathering that Sheridan is alleged to have admitted attending a sex club on two occasions.

The Advocate Depute said the most logical explanation was that she was “indignant” at being called a liar.

He asked the jury to believe the testimony of Allan Green and others who said the minutes containing Sheridan’s alleged admission were presented to members at a meeting on November 24, 2004.

The QC also highlighted evidence in support of the alleged visit to Cupid’s in Manchester on September 27, 2002 with Katrine Trolle, Anvar Khan, Gary Clark and Andrew McFarlane.

He asked what Clark would have to gain by telling lies about Sheridan and why Trolle would have put herself through telling the court intimate sexual details about her and the politician.

He said: “What would Katrine Trolle gain by telling lies to you? The answer is nothing.”

The jury was asked to “disbelieve” the evidence of McFarlane, Sheridan’s brother-in-law, who claimed he was at home watching golf on the television when the alleged trip took place.

The court was then shown the so-called McNeilage tape, the video filmed by Sheridan’s best man in which a man said to be Sheridan incriminates himself in conversation with George McNeilage.

The trial has heard claims the footage was concocted but Prentice asked the jury why the News of the World, if they were behind the tape, would include a strong denial by Sheridan of an affair with Fiona McGuire, which he described as the paper’s “headline story”.

He concluded: “I suggest that there is a compelling and convincing Crown case and I ask you to convict Mr Sheridan of the charge of perjury.”

The case before Lord Bracadale was adjourned until noon today when the jury will hear closing remarks from Sheridan, who is conducting his own defence.

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