Tommy Sheridan perjury trial jury retires

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The Independent Online

The jury in the Tommy Sheridan perjury trial has retired to consider its verdict.







The 14 men and women were told by the judge, Lord Bracadale, to consider six remaining allegations against the former Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) leader at the end of a 12-week trial at the High Court in Glasgow.



Lord Bracadale said there was a "conflict" between the evidence of some witnesses and Sheridan's account.



During about 90 minutes of legal directions to the jury, he told them the trial was not a court of politics or sexual morality.



"Put out of your minds any views you may have," he said.



Sheridan denies lying under oath during his defamation action against the News of the World in 2006.



He was awarded £200,000 after winning the case at the Court of Session in 2006.



The paper claimed in an article that he was an adulterer who visited swingers' clubs.











At the close of his almost five-hour speech, Sheridan said he was not afraid of the tabloid.



Addressing the jury, he said: "I'm frightened of you because you can do something that the News of the World will never be able to do.



"You could separate me from my wife, you could make me break my promise to my daughter that I'd spend Christmas with her.



"Never mind the emotion, given what you've heard I ask you to believe you've heard more than enough reasonable doubt to convince you that I'm innocent of the charges that remain."



The perjury trial has heard from more than a dozen witnesses who said he admitted visiting a sex club at a meeting of the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) on November 9 2004.



But Sheridan accused his former colleagues today of "spewing bile" against him as part of a "political civil war" within the left of the party.



He added: "You've been dragged into a political battle that's got nothing to do with you."



He accused News of the World bosses of thinking they were "above the law" and said he wanted to see Scottish editor Bob Bird and news editor Douglas Wight in the dock.



Mr Sheridan suggested his phone may have been tampered with by a private detective employed by the newspaper and said it was guilty of exploiting Fiona McGuire, a woman who he said had told lies about him.



He said: "I don't want to see Fiona McGuire in the dock. I do want to see Bob Bird, Douglas Wight and others who have lied in the dock."



Concluding his speech, Sheridan told how he was jailed when he stood up to Margaret Thatcher and the poll tax, and when he campaigned against nuclear weapons.



But he told the jury: "I've never been involved in a crime of dishonesty in my life.



"The News of the World and the Murdoch press, the Sun, have tried to destroy me and destroy my reputation.



"I'm not frightened of them. I've fought them all my life and I'll go on fighting them."



After Sheridan finished his speech, he received a round of applause from the public, one of whom shouted: "Go Tommy."



Lord Bracadale then began his directions to the jurors by reminding them the trial is not a court of politics or sexual morality.



He said: "This is not a political court, you do not judge people on their politics.



"There was a strong political background in this case. The accused and many of the witnesses in the case are, or were, committed to and active in the politics of socialism in Scotland.



"You may agree with their views or vehemently disagree with their views. Put out of your minds any views you may have."



He told the jury they will have heard accounts of infidelity and sex involving "various numbers of people".



"It's not your function to judge the sexual morality," he added.



Lord Bracadale also referred to the emotional remarks in Sheridan's closing speech.



"Put out of your minds any feelings of sympathy you may feel," he said.



"Nor can you be swayed by the consequences of conviction. On more than one occasion, Mr Sheridan made reference to the consequences."