Tommy Sheridan freed from jail


Former MSP Tommy Sheridan has vowed to continue the fight to clear his name as he was freed from prison, serving just over one year of his three-year sentence for lying under oath.

Sheridan, 47, walked out of Castle Huntly prison near Dundee shortly after 10am. His wife Gail went to the jail and they left arm in arm, before being driven back to their Glasgow home.

The high-profile politician and former Celebrity Big Brother contestant was jailed on January 26 last year for committing perjury during his successful defamation action against the News of the World in 2006.

He was awarded £200,000 in damages after winning the civil case but a jury at the High Court in Glasgow found him guilty of lying about the now-defunct tabloid's claims that he was an adulterer who visited a swingers' club.

Sheridan said he intended to launch a fresh appeal over his conviction. He claimed "witnesses" had lied during his perjury trial and said he would have "a strong appeal that will hopefully lead to the quashing of my unfair, unsafe and unsound conviction".

His lawyer, Aamer Anwar, said he had been instructed to draw up an appeal related to the outcome of the police investigation into alleged perjury during Sheridan's trial.

Sheridan's trial was one of the longest of its kind in Scottish legal history.

He was convicted of five out of six allegations in a single charge of perjury, relating to his evidence during the civil action at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

During the three-month High Court trial, Sheridan said he was the victim of a "vendetta" by the police and a "conspiracy" involving the Sunday newspaper and former colleagues within the Scottish Socialist Party.

In August last year he was denied the chance to appeal against his conviction, following a ruling by senior judges.

Speaking outside his house today, Sheridan said: "This fight is far from over. This story has not yet finished. I believe that I will return to Glasgow High Court in the near future.

"I want to thank the thousands of ordinary folk across Scotland and further afield who have taken time to write to me, send me cards and letters, contact me on Facebook and to show their solidarity with me and my family throughout this difficult 12 months.

"I would like to thank them for being so human and so warm and respecting the fact that although we lost a trial in December of last year, we will continue to fight to clear my name."

The firebrand socialist told supporters he would throw his weight behind the campaign for an independent Scotland, saying: "I look forward to re-engaging in the battle for justice and against inequality and poverty, and I also look forward to engaging in the campaign to deliver Scotland not just as an independent country but as an independent socialist country as well."

He added: "I thank once again all of those who have stuck by me, my family and my friends. But most of all, I thank my wife Gail."

Sheridan was initially subject to a "gagging order" banning him from speaking to the media.

However, he said this had been lifted this morning, but he added: "Unfortunately, although I am not to be gagged today, I will be tagged."

He added: "It is a relief to be able to speak personally for once. It seems a long time now since I have been able to speak.

"It's been an absolute delight to be back home with my beautiful wife who I love dearly, and my daughter Gabrielle who I have missed beyond words are able to describe."

Sheridan hugged his wife tightly as he spoke to his friends, family and the media. Before he went back into the house, the couple shared a kiss on the doorstep.

Any prisoner serving a sentence of under four years is eligible for automatic early release at the halfway point in their jail term. Sheridan would therefore be entitled to be freed from prison after 18 months.

However, under current provisions, it is possible for individuals to spend up to the last six months of their sentence on home-detention curfew. This means they can be freed from prison to live at home but must wear an electronically monitored tag for the remainder of their sentence.

Sheridan's tag is expected to be fitted this afternoon and he will have to stay at home between 7.15pm and 7.15am.