Tommy Sheridan in court over perjury charges

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The Independent Online

Former socialist MSP Tommy Sheridan and his wife appeared in court today charged with lying under oath following his newspaper defamation case.

Sheridan appeared at the High Court in Glasgow alongside his wife Gail, who is also accused of perjury, for a preliminary hearing before Lord Kinclaven.



Both have denied lying to the court during Sheridan's successful £200,000 libel action against the News Of The World in 2006.



The paper had published allegations about Sheridan's private life, such as that he was an adulterer who visited a swinger's club.



Police later investigated allegations of lying under oath during the civil action at the Court of Session in Edinburgh, and the couple, both 45, were charged in March this year.



A trial was set for February 2010 but at today's hearing the judge agreed to postpone it to allow Sheridan's new legal team to prepare his defence.



Sheridan, who is standing as an MP in the Glasgow North East by-election in November, was to be represented by Donald Findlay QC, who has worked on some of Scotland's most high-profile legal cases.



But in September, he instead hired Margaret Scott QC, who acted for the Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi during his appeal case.



Gail Sheridan continues to be represented by Paul McBride QC.



Ms Scott told the court it is "wholly unrealistic" for the trial to proceed in February as planned and a trial date will now be set at another hearing on December 14.



The court was also told that the trial was estimated to last 60 days, making it one of the longest perjury cases in Scottish legal history.



Ms Scott said more than 200 witnesses are involved in the trial and 270 "productions of evidence" will be made.