Tommy Sheridan 'panicked' in swingers club, court hears

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Former MSP Tommy Sheridan "panicked" when he was recognised visiting a swingers' club in Manchester, a court heard today.

Anvar Khan, a former News of the World columnist, told the High Court in Glasgow she was at Cupid's club with the former Scottish Socialist (SSP) MSP, his brother-in-law Andrew McFarlane, Gary Clark and Katrine Trolle in September 2002.

But she said Sheridan was recognised by someone from Glasgow after they entered the club in a "broken down industrial estate" in Manchester.

She said she thought it happened on Friday September 27, 2002. She said there was a large central area and screens on the wall showing pornography and smaller areas.

Ms Khan told the court: "He panicked as soon as we went in because there were a couple of people from Glasgow who recognised him immediately."

The group was introduced to the couple from Glasgow later that evening at a party in a house in Manchester, the court heard.

She said they spent three to four hours at the house, leaving in the early hours of Saturday morning, adding she was "pretty pissed". She said she arrived back in Glasgow as dawn was breaking.

The politician is on trial accused of lying under oath during his successful defamation action against the News of the World newspaper in 2006.

Sheridan denies lying to the courts during the action, 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, are accused of lying under oath. They deny the charges.

Mr Sheridan won £200,000 in damages after the newspapers printed the allegations.

But Ms Khan today told the trial the encounter in Manchester was one of several sexual experiences she had with Sheridan since meeting him.

She said that she "believed" that Sheridan had been married when some of the liaisons took place.

They included a "snog" in Glasgow City Chambers soon after they met and having sex beneath a Che Guevara picture in Sheridan's bedroom.

She also told the court he visited her at her flat in Glasgow and had brought friends, including his brother-in-law Andrew McFarlane, with him.

But Ms Khan said she later advised the politician to clean up his private life after rumours about his sexual activities surfaced around 2003.

She said she phoned Sheridan when she was making a television programme called Wham Bam Married Man and told him to "keep it in his pants".

She said: "I said if he continued he would squander his ability to help people politically.

"He could no longer count on me to accompany him to any sex clubs or swingers' clubs.

"I said to him that he had been voted for as a man of integrity, if there was any suspicion of him leading any kind of double life he would lose his ability to help people.

"He said: 'Don't talk about my business. MI5 are listening to me on the phone right now.'"

Ms Khan said she included a fictionalised account of the visit to the swingers' club in her 2004 book "Pretty Wild".

She said the book was supposed to be a "Scottish version of Sex in the City" but she had used "artistic licence" and changed the names of people she spoke about.

But she told the court she had revealed that "the book contained a very clouded reference to an MSP" during a publicity interview with the Scotland on Sunday newspaper.

But she said: "I have never spoken publicly about my relationship with Mr Sheridan unless I am under oath and have been forced to do so."

The trial, before Lord Bracadale, was adjourned until this afternoon.