Sex club admission was 'mistake', court is told

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The Independent Online

The perjury trial of the Scottish politician Tommy Sheridan has been shown a video in which the MSP allegedly says he made a "mistake" by admitting to visiting a swingers' club.

The trial was played video footage filmed in the days after an emergency meeting of the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) executive about the revelations in the News of the World.

In the video shown to the jury, Mr Sheridan was allegedly talking about going into the meeting and addressing its membership. The video was obtained by the News of the World following Mr Sheridan's successful libel action against the newspaper. His former colleague, Colin Fox, identified both Mr Sheridan, his friend of 30 years, and George McNeilage in the video.

Mr Fox said he was "disappointed" by the emergence of the video. He said it was evidence of the "breakdown in the relationship" between the two men, adding that he had not questioned the authenticity of the video. He said: "I was disgusted at what George McNeilage had done."

A man's voice in the video can be heard to say: "They want me to come to a meeting that night to explain myself and this is where I make the big mistake. A huge mistake. A humongous mistake. I got to the meeting, there's 19 people sitting around a circle, sitting on desks, sitting on chairs.

The atmosphere you [can] cut with a knife, man. I then make the biggest mistake of my life by confessing something in front of 19 fuckers. What am I doing confessing...?"Mr Fox told the court: "That executive committee of 9 November 2004 was the SSP's 9/11. It was when our totem came crashing down. We would remember that meeting for the rest of our lives."

As well as visiting the swingers' club, Mr Sheridan had an affair with a member of the SSP, Katrine Trolle, the court was told. Duncan Rowan, the former regional organiser of the SSP for the north-east of Scotland, then told the court he had informed the News of the World about the affair to try to protect another woman, Fiona McGuire, who the newspaper thought was having an affair with Mr Sheridan.

The 37-year-old, who resigned from the party and left Scotland after going to the newspaper, said Ms McGuire had tried to kill herself after she was approached by the newspaper in connection with allegations of a "four in a bed" orgy with Mr Sheridan.

He said he went to the newspaper the day after the emergency meeting because he blamed himself for the "fragile" woman's suicide attempt and had been told by Ms Trolle that she had been having an affair with Mr Sheridan.

He said: "I had to do something to recover the situation".

It was because Katrine had said to me on previous occasions that she was having an affair with Tommy Sheridan.

"I believed they had the wrong person, I believed I knew who the right person in the story was."

Mr Rowan said he was wracked with guilt after the article was published and told the court he had left Scotland because he "wanted to get away from the mess".

Mr Sheridan stared straight ahead of him while the evidence against him was given to the court yesterday, while Mrs Sheridan sat close by him.

The trial was then adjourned until later today.