My life is at stake, Tommy Sheridan tells jury

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The Independent Online

Former Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) MSP Tommy Sheridan today pleaded with a jury to acquit him of perjury, telling them his life was at stake.

The politician addressed the panel at the High Court in Glasgow at the close of a long-running trial into allegations he lied under oath during his defamation case against the News of the World in 2006.

Sheridan was awarded £200,000 following the successful action prompted by the newspaper's claims he was an adulterer who visited swingers' clubs.

He was originally charged alongside his wife Gail but the charges against the mother of one were dropped on Friday.

Sheridan denies six allegations of perjury during the civil jury trial in July 2006.

He began his closing remarks with an apology to the jury for the length of his speech.

Sheridan, who is conducting his own defence, said: "I do hope that you'll understand that my life is at stake.

"I've got a wee girl at home, I've got a loving wife and if you decide to convict me I'll be separated from them for a very long time.

"I have to convince you that there's far too much reasonable doubt for you to find me guilty of any of the remaining six charges."

During the first part of his speech, Sheridan raised questions over the testimony of several Crown witnesses, including SSP member Barbara Scott, who the trial has heard handed the minutes of a party meeting in to police following the defamation action.

It is alleged that Sheridan admitted attending a sex club on two occasions at the gathering on November 9 2004.

He also remarked on the evidence of fellow member Allison Kane, who said he did not attend a party event on September 27 2002 - the night he is alleged to have visited Cupid's in Manchester.

He said Ms Kane seemed to have a "marvellous recollection" about people not being places.

Sheridan said: "The Crown's problem is that they are seeking to rely on liars, they are seeking to rely on witnesses who lack credibility and reliability."

He also criticised the investigation by Lothian and Borders Police, saying his family had been "persecuted" and launched a staunch defence of his wife.

Referring to events on Friday, he said: "My wife Gail became a free woman for the first time in three years and was allowed to at last attend (her child's) primary school without having a charge over her head of being a perjurer."