Girls! Swingers! Three-in-a-bed! The bizarre trial of Tommy Sheridan
The former Scottish Socialist leader's court case has contained some salacious revelations, writes Andy McSmith
Saturday 23 October 2010
What a week it has been in the High Court in Glasgow.
Three-in-a-bed sex, one woman and four men in a side room off a swingers' bar, three women and six men in a nearby house, not to mention a walk through the snow to a tanning parlour. Tommy Sheridan – one of Scotland's most controversial politicians – and his wife Gail are accused of perjury during a 2006 libel case in which he won £200,000 damages from the News of the World. They deny the charges and Sheridan stands by his claim that all the sex stories are lies. Having sacked his barristers, he is defending himself – and the results have veered between farce and high drama.
The week began with a literary reference. Svengali was a character from an anti-semitic Victorian potboiler written by Gerald du Maurier, a hypnotist who took control of the mind of a woman named Trilby. In the modern version of the drama, there is not one Trilby, but four, all members of the Scottish Socialist Party, whom Sheridan will be calling to the stand to counter what he claims are the lies told by other former comrades.
One of those he accuses of lying is 51-year-old Colin Fox, his successor as leader of the SSP. Mr Sheridan asked Mr Fox if he knew these four "good, honest socialists".
Mr Fox agreed that they were good, honest socialists, but had fallen under Sheridan's "Svengali-type" influence. He added: "It doesn't make a blind bit of sense, their evidence... they are guilty of nothing but being loyal to you."
Sheridan also cross-examined another former party colleague, Rosie Kane, who 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."
It was a day when the jury would have had to pay close attention to keep up with who was alleged to have had sexual intercourse with whom, and where. Katrine Trolle, a 36-year-old Danish national, alleged that her first tryst with Sheridan took place in the bedroom of his house next to a photo of his wedding. It was cut short when Gail Sheridan telephoned.
The next location was the house of his now brother-in-law Andy McFarlane where she and the two men "spent most of the night having sexual intercourse." Next it was a twosome in Tommy Sheridan's office in the City Chambers.
Then there was a visit to Cupids swingers' club in Manchester, where Troll was disappointed by the "minging décor – old carpets, dingy lighting" and felt like an "absolute idiot", but nonetheless went into a side room with Sheridan and three other men, where "all of us" had sex. Afterwards, they were joined by two couples and went to a house in Manchester, where "we all had sex with various partners".
Paul McBride QC, defending Gail Sheridan, asked Trolle if she understood the ordeal to which she was subjecting Mrs Sheridan by testifying that "you had sex with her husband, without her knowledge, in her own house, in her own bed?" Trolle replied that she did. After that exchange, the hearing was suspended as Gail Sheridan appeared to break down.
As Tommy Sheridan cross examined the Dane, a question came up about where he had obtained his artificial sun tan – at home or in a tanning salon.
"The beauty of fiction is that you can chop and change detail as much as you like, as it doesn't really matter what the fiction is... it's still fiction. The truth is that you were never at my house," he told Trolle. She had testified to seeing a sunbed in the house. He produced an entry in his wife's diary showing that they walked through the snow to go to a tanning session. "Offer me a reasonable explanation why I would walk for a sunbed, if I had one in the house," he challenged her. She replied: "Diary might be made up. I don't know. Maybe the sunbed was not working."
He also accused her of inventing the stories about the visit to the swingers' club and the liaison in the City Chambers, which she had not mentioned before.
"Are you saying it now because you know it will make good headlines?" he demanded. She replied: "It probably does, but I want to avoid headlines at all costs."
On the witness stand again, Trolle came out with a confession: "You can call me guilty of getting my facts wrong; of being naive and silly," she said. "I'm guilty of thinking you had charisma and I'm guilty of having sex with you. Yes, I'm guilty of all these things, but I'm not guilty of lying in court."
In sharp exchanges, Sheridan accused her of being a "conscious liar" and suggested that she worked with the News of the World to make up stories against him and that she had been "coached" by the police – all of which she denied. He also accused her of collaborating with a witness – Allison Kane – who had given evidence the previous week, during which she had told the court she had heard Sheridan admit to visiting Cupids.
"If Allison Kane and others wanted you to support their plot to bring me down, even including lying in court, would you support them?" he asked. She replied that Kane was a good friend, but she would never "lie in court for her".
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