Tommy Sheridan best man 'secretly filmed meeting'

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The Independent Online

The best man at Tommy Sheridan's wedding told a court today that he "secretly" taped the politician discussing allegations about his private life made in the News of the World.

George McNeilage said he made the tape in November 2004, because he thought other people deserved to hear what Sheridan had to say.

The 46-year-old, who now works as a pest controller, said Sheridan had called and asked to meet him for a discussion, so he set up a video camera and hid it among building debris at the house he was renovating.

He told the politician's perjury trial at the High Court in Glasgow that he pressed the record button shortly before Sheridan walked in, agreeing with Advocate Depute Alex Prentice that the recording had taken place in secret.

Mobile phone records indicated that the meeting took place on November 18, at around 7.30pm.

Mr McNeilage, who went to school with Sheridan, but only became close to him in 1986 when they met through shared political interests, agreed that those times "fitted" with his memory of events.

Mr McNeilage told the court he had not felt as if he was betraying Sheridan, but said he nonetheless felt nervous.

He said: "It's not the sort of thing you do. I had been with this guy for a long, long time."

He added that "events" and the way Sheridan had previously spoken to him about "people I knew were good, good people" had made him make the tape.

He said: "He owed it to those people, if he was going down that route, that he should explain it to those people."

He said no-one had asked him to film Sheridan, but he had previously said in newspapers and on television that someone else had, "probably to sound a bit better".

Sheridan denies lying to the courts during his successful action against the News of the World in 2006, which followed the newspaper's claims that he was an adulterer who visited swingers' clubs.

He and his wife Gail, both 46 and from Glasgow, deny lying under oath during the action.

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

Mr McNeilage said he had previously met Sheridan twice in his car in which he had discussed the News of the World's allegations, but had known about the claims since 2002.

He said the meeting in Sheridan's car "was about the News of the World, Anvar Khan and the story that had come out".

"He said things like 'They have not got anything on me', 'She betrayed my trust', along those lines.

"He wanted me on his side."

He said a second meeting took place "within days", and Sheridan told him he would have to fight the allegations in court because he "couldn't put his hand up", the court heard.

He said: "One of the main things he said was 'I can't deal with this, I can't put my hands up, I can't go to Gail. If I do that the floodgates will open. I have to take this to court'."

Mr McNeilage said: "I was just blown away. It was shocking. I felt as if I had been manipulated and used."

He said he had been shocked that Sheridan "was going to take Gail through this".

The trial, before Lord Bracadale, continues.