Sheridan wife cleared of perjury

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The wife of former MSP Tommy Sheridan walked free from court to jubilant cheers after she was cleared of perjury today.

Gail Sheridan, 46, left the High Court in Glasgow hand in hand with her husband after she was acquitted of lying to the court during his successful defamation action against the News of the World in 2006.

Prosecutors told her they were no longer pursuing the charge against her.

Advocate depute Alex Prentice QC said he had considered Mrs Sheridan's "personal circumstances" when he made the decision. Mrs Sheridan had been on trial along with her husband Tommy, who is also accused of perjury.

Last month the Crown dropped a chapter of evidence from the case, which also affected their case against Mrs Sheridan.

Mr Prentice said: "I have now had the opportunity to consider and review the Crown case now all the evidence has been heard.

"I am of the view that as I have not proceeded with that chapter of evidence, and taking into account her personal circumstances, it is no longer necessary in the public interest to proceed further with the charges in respect of Mrs Sheridan."

The announcement was met with cheers from the public gallery and Mrs Sheridan wept and hugged her husband in the dock.

The judge, Lord Bracadale, then formally acquitted her and adjourned the case.

Outside court Mrs Sheridan's solicitor John-Paul Mowberry read a statement on behalf of Mrs Sheridan, who stood next to him.

He said: "After 44 days of trial, Gail stands cleared of all criminal charges.

"However, no further statement can be made due to ongoing proceedings."

Mrs Sheridan then left the court with her husband and surrounded by her family.

Every day for 10 weeks, Mrs Sheridan walked by her husband's side into court, looking confident and poised.

Well-groomed and impeccably dressed, she often held her husband's hand as she arrived to appear in the dock alongside him.

Inside the courtroom she listened to claim after claim that he had cheated on her in a string of seedy encounters - claims that Sheridan denies.

It was only after Scottish Socialist Party member Katrine Trolle told the court she had sex with Sheridan in his marital bed that she appeared visibly shaken and the trial was briefly adjourned.

Earlier today, her younger sister broke down in the witness box as she described the way their family had been affected by the case.

Gillian McFarlane, 40, said Mrs Sheridan had been "put through hell every single day".

She said: "It has had a terrible effect on my family and me. I have not been able to sleep for the past three months.

"Watching Gail coming here, being put through hell every single day - it's affected not just me but my mum and dad as well."

Mrs McFarlane also described how police investigating perjury allegations against the couple searched their Glasgow home.

She said four CID officers and six uniformed policemen searched the Sheridan house.

She said her sister was "completely shocked" and the Sheridan's two-year-old daughter was "terrified".

As she described how the toddler had tried to hide behind the sofa, Gail also seemed visibly upset and she dabbed her face with a tissue.

Tommy Sheridan still faces one charge of perjury.

The former Scottish Socialist Party leader denies lying to the courts during the action against the News of the World, which followed the newspaper's claims that he was an adulterer who visited swingers' clubs.

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

The trial continues on Monday.