Detectives deny they 'went after' Sheridans

A detective today denied that police decided they should "go after" Tommy and Gail Sheridan in their investigation into alleged perjury at his defamation action.

Detective sergeant Jerrold Fraser, 51, rejected the suggestion that the outcome of the police inquiry was "predetermined".

The Lothian and Borders Police officer was part of a team set up in autumn 2006 to investigate allegations of perjury by comparing evidence from the case with fresh statements, and assessing new evidence.

Cross-examining Mr Fraser at the High Court in Glasgow, Sheridan, who is representing himself, suggested that the inquiry had focused on certain people from the outset.

He said: "The inquiry started off with the conclusion that they should go after Tommy Sheridan and Gail Sheridan."

Det Sgt Fraser said: "No."

Sheridan suggested that "inconsistencies" about information from former News of the World Scottish news editor Douglas Wight and Sheridan's former SSP colleagues Colin Fox and Allan Green were "ignored".

He added: "It was pre-determined wasn't it?"

The police officer said: "No."

Former MSP Sheridan and his wife Gail, both 46, deny lying under oath during his successful defamation action against the News of the World newspaper in 2006.

The action followed the newspaper's claims that Sheridan was an adulterer who visited swinger's clubs.

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

Sheridan told Det Sgt Fraser that the court had previously heard evidence that Mr Wight gave information that two women had not been paid when the case heard that they had.

He asked: "If a witness had said under oath that these women had not been paid and they had, that would have been a lie."

Det Sgt Fraser said: "It would have been but I missed that part."

The court heard that Fiona McGuire was also investigated and that her status changed to a "suspect" during the course of the inquiry.

The jury has previously heard that an article about her alleged four-year affair with Sheridan was printed in the News of the World in November 2004.

Det Sgt Fraser told the court: "It became apparent that she was not telling the truth, that what she was telling us was not corroborated by anyone else."

Re-examining Det Sgt Fraser, advocate depute Alex Prentice QC asked: "Were you instructed by the News of the World or anyone else?", to which the police officer replied "no."

Asked whether he had formed a "blinkered view" of the inquiry, he also said "no."

The court also heard from Detective Sergeant Stuart Harkness, 38, who was deputy senior investigating officer in the case.

The Lothian and Borders Police officer said that one of the lines of inquiry was to investigate a tape handed into police which shows a meeting between George McNeilage and a man alleged to be Sheridan in which the latter allegedly makes admissions about his private life.

Under cross-examination from Sheridan, Det Sgt Harkness said police were instructed to "probe the veracity" of the tape.

He said he saw only a "fleeting glimpse" of the figure on the tape and could not say if it was Sheridan.

He added: "My understanding from listening to the tape is it is Mr Sheridan."

The indictment against the Sheridans contains three charges in total, two of which are broken into sub-sections.

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

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

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

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