Tommy Sheridan charged with perjury

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The Independent Online

Tommy Sheridan, one of Scotland's most colourful politicians, has been charged with alleged perjury in connection with the former MSP's legal action against a tabloid newspaper last year.

Mr Sheridan was awarded damages of 200,000 last summer following a case of defamation he brought against the News of the World which had claimed that he was a swinger, serial adulterer and drug user.

Before the jury retired to consider its verdict following the proceedings, the judge, Lord Turnbull, said the conflicting evidence given to the court may have meant some people had been perjuring themselves an offence which could lead to a prison sentence. Prosecution authorities later instructed the police to investigate allegations of perjury by witnesses during the trial.

Yesterday a spokesman for Lothian and Border Police confirmed that a 43-year-old man was being questioned by officers in Edinburgh. Last night Mr Sheridan's lawyer confirmed that the former MSP had been charged with perjury.

According to reports, Mr Sheridan was arrested soon after he finished presenting his regular radio show, Citizen Tommy, yesterday afternoon. The radio station talk107 reported that he was leaving its studios in South Gyle Crescent, Edinburgh, when he was stopped by the police.

The station reported on its website: "A white Mercedes estate came to a halt directly in front of Tommy's car. Three plain clothes police officers got out and asked Tommy to get into the back of their vehicle.

He was first allowed to collect an item from his own car. The officers talked to Tommy in the back of their unmarked car for three to four minutes, after which time he was driven away."

The 23-day court case, in which several members of the Scottish Socialist Party gave evidence against Mr Sheridan, led to a split, with Mr Sheridan later establishing the rival party Solidarity. Neither he nor his former colleagues were returned to Holyrood in the May 2007 elections.

The News of the World said at the time it planned to appeal against the verdict. That move was put on hold in September of this year when judges agreed that the proceedings should be suspended until the Crown inquiry into perjury allegations resulting from the case was resolved.

Mr Sheridan, who lives in Glasgow with his wife, Gail, and young daughter, Gabrielle, had maintained that the newspaper had been partly motivated in its campaign against him because of his left-wing politics.