Witness: 'Svengali' Sheridan 'walked all over' supporters

Tommy Sheridan “walked all over” his former followers when he decided to sue a newspaper over claims about his private life, the former Socialist MSP’s perjury trial heard yesterday.

Sheridan’s former friend and Scottish Socialist Party colleague Colin Fox told the High Court in Glasgow that the politician had a “Svengali-type” influence over his supporters, who would say “black was white” to help him.

Fox was recalled to the trial to be re-examined by Sheridan after the accused dismissed his barrister Maggie Scott QC last week.

Judge Lord Bracadale has given him permission to question several witnesses who appeared before the trial ahead of Scott’s sacking.

Sheridan denies lying to the courts during his successful action against the News of the World in 2006, which followed the newspaper’s claims that he was an adulterer who visited swingers’ clubs.

He and his wife Gail, both 46, and from Glasgow, are accused of lying under oath during the action.

Sheridan won £200,000 in damages after the newspapers printed the allegations about his private life.

But several of Sheridan’s former SSP colleagues, including Fox, have told the trial that they witnessed him “confessing” that he was the MSP involved in the allegations, during an emergency meeting of the party’s executive on November 9 2004.

The trial is later expected to hear evidence from SSP members Graeme McIver, Jock Penman, Rosemary Byrne and Pat Smith.

Sheridan suggested that their evidence about his alleged “confession” at the meeting would be “diametrically opposed” to what Fox had told the court, asking him if these “good, honest Socialists” were lying.

Sheridan claimed all four previously gave evidence at the 2006 libel trial, saying he had not admitted visiting Cupid’s Swingers’ club in Manchester.

Fox agreed they were “good, honest Socialists”, but said they had been blinded by loyalty to the “Svengali-type” Sheridan.

He said: “It doesn’t make a blind bit of sense, their evidence (in 2006). I think they are grievously mistaken in the evidence they gave to the Court of Session and they are guilty of nothing but being loyal to you.

“They were loyal to you and you put them in the position they are in.”

Sheridan also suggested Fox had told two female party members – Irene Lang and Joyce Drummond – that there was a “plot to do in Tommy”, but he would wait until after the defamation case ended before he dealt with it.

But Fox said: “There was no plot to do in Tommy. Of course not. Irene Lang and Joyce Drummond would say black was white – they are that loyal to you.

“I think they are loyal to you. I think people are loyal to you and I think you have walked all over the top of them for their loyalty.

“My loyalty is to the truth and has been throughout – unlike you.”

He accused Sheridan of “contortion and fabrication” and branded him a liar.

Fox said: “The only person that is telling lies is the person who is charged with perjury.

“I don’t tell lies, Mr Sheridan. I leave lies to people like you.”

The indictment against the Sheridans contains three charges in total, two of which are broken down into subsections.

It is alleged he made false statements as a witness in the defamation action of 21 July 2006.

He also denies a charge of attempting to persuade a witness to commit perjury shortly before the 23-day trial got under way.

Gail Sheridan denies making false statements on 31 July 2006, after being sworn in as a witness in the civil jury trial.

Also under cross-examination from Sheridan today was former SSP MSP Rosie Kane, who he accused of lying “to bring me down” and “make me look even worse”.

But she said Sheridan exhibited “kamikaze” tendencies and had been on a “course of destruction” since the newspaper article was published in 2004.

She said: “Your ego was on the rampage. I saw a side of you I never knew existed and I see it again here today.

“You were on a course of destruction. You were a kamikaze then and you still are.

“I’m disgusted that your wife is in this situation. You should have protected her.”

The trial was adjourned until later today.

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