Diary: Round 1 to Sheridan in £200,000 legal fight with Murdoch

Diary

Tommy Sheridan, Scotland's best known left-wing firebrand, does not give up easily. He has only recently come out of prison after serving one year of a three-year sentence for perjury but was back in court yesterday, still battling against the Murdoch empire. The issue at yesterday's hearing was the £200,000 he was awarded after he successfully sued the News of the World for libel in 2006.

News Group, owners of the now defunct Sunday newspaper, has not paid and does not think it should have to, since Sheridan was convicted of lying during the libel trial. It has submitted an appeal to have the libel case reopened, but the appeal was frozen while Sheridan was facing a criminal trial. Yesterday, the company's solicitors asked three Scottish judges to allow it to go ahead.

But Sheridan's legal team argued that the appeal – or sist, to give it its legal name – should stay frozen awaiting the outcome of the police investigation into phone hacking, which is almost as big in Scotland as in London. The Court of Session agreed. The judge, Lord Clarke, ruled: "The appropriate course is to refuse the motion to recall the sist."

Tommy Sheridan's solicitor, Aamer Anwar, sounded pleased afterwards. He said: "It appears that the shoe is on the other foot. We were successful in requesting that proceedings remain sisted pending the outcome of criminal inquiries. The court's verdict was a kick in the face for News Group. If it was a boxing match, it would be Round 1 to us."

Fig leaves won't cover their blushes

It is the sort of problem that makes the Commons authorities wish for a fig leaf to cover their embarrassment. A Freedom of Information request has teased out new figures for the cost of the weeping fig trees of Portcullis House.

Portcullis is the large, glass-covered building across the road from Big Ben that looks like a giant radiator and cost an estimated £235m to build. When it opened 12 years ago, there was a minor scandal as it emerged that the 12 fig trees that adorned the central atrium did not belong to Parliament, but had been hired for five years at a cost of £150,000. The point of hiring, rather than buying was to spare the Commons authorities the responsibility of nursing the trees.

Yesterday, the London Evening Standard reported that their current rent is £32,500 a year, which means that they have cost at least £370,000 so far – more than £400,000 if VAT is added.

Not for nothing is it said that Portcullis House is Britain's most expensive office block.

Double meaning from the real Bard

The French Prime Minister, François Fillon, has twisted the dagger after that famous gaffe by François Hollande, Socialist contender for the presidency, who claimed to be quoting William Shakespeare when actually he was quoting the Bard's distant, living relative Nicholas. Briefed, possibly by his Welsh wife, Penny, Fillon told a rally in Paris: "Screw your courage to the sticking place, and we'll not fail" adding, to general guffaws – "and that's the real Shakespeare!"

Although one journalist observed: "It's a phrase used by Lady Macbeth when she's contemplating killing the king – so perhaps there's a message there for 'King' Sarko too."

A privatised send-off for Lady Thatcher?

The number of signatures on a petition on the Downing Street website to deny Margaret Thatcher a state funeral has just crept past the 30,000 mark.

It has nearly 70,000 to go if it is even to be considered as a suitable topic for a Commons debate, and somehow I don't think it would get on to the agenda even then, though there is a nice ironic touch to the petitioner's suggestion that privatising the funeral would be "an ideal way to cut government expense and further prove the merits of liberalised economics Baroness Thatcher spearheaded".

But that is nothing compared with the rapid progress of an e-petition to "Drop the Health Bill", which by late yesterday had easily surpassed the 100,000 needed to be a suitable subject for a Commons debate, having attracted almost 50,000 extra signatures in a little over a day.

It was launched by Dr Kailash Chand, who was a GP for 25 years. GPs are supposed to be the main beneficiaries of the Bill, because they will take over the commissioning budgets previously held by primary-care trusts. But Dr Chand argues: "GPs are not experienced in commissioning, many do not want to do it, and also it will take those very experienced GPs who do take the role away from providing patient care."

Beauty of a role for Emma

Emma Watson, the 21-year-old star of the Harry Potter films, is in "final negotiations" for a role in Guillermo del Toro's new production of Beauty and the Beast. As Beauty, of course, not the Beast.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

HR Advisor - North London / North West London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - North London...

Finance Manager - Recruitment Business (Media & Entertainment)

£28000 - £32000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...

HR Advisor - North London / North West London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - North London...

HR Advisor - North London / North West London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - North London...

Day In a Page

Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past