Tommy Sheridan to defend himself at perjury trial

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The Independent Online

Former Socialist MSP Tommy Sheridan today dismissed his legal team at his trial for perjury and will now represent himself.

The politician and his wife Gail, both 46, are on trial at the High Court in Glasgow accused of perjury.



Sheridan's legal team was led by QC Maggie Scott and included two junior counsel.



The trial has now been adjourned until Thursday to allow him to prepare his case.



Judge Lord Bracadale told the jurors there had been "some developments" in the case earlier this morning.



He said: "Miss Scott and junior counsel are no longer here.



"Mr Sheridan has instructed his solicitor to withdraw counsel's instructions.



"Mr Sheridan will now conduct his own defence. An accused person is entitled to do that."



The case will not now call until Thursday morning.



The couple, from Glasgow, are accused of lying under oath during Sheridan's successful 2006 defamation action against the News of the World. They deny the allegations against them.



Sheridan, a former contestant on Celebrity Big Brother, won £200,000 in damages after the newspaper printed allegations about his private life.



Miss Scott is one of Scotland's best known QCs and defended Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Al Megrahi.



Sheridan has retained solicitor Aamer Anwar but will conduct his own defence in the case.



The trial got under way on Monday last week and has already heard from several witnesses.



Lord Bracadale told the court that Sheridan would continue to be supported by Mr Anwar, in the course of his defence.



The politician had asked for some time to prepare himself for the case and the judge said this was a "reasonable" request.



He agreed to adjourn the case until Thursday, when the court will only sit in the morning.



"That will give Mr Sheridan even more time to prepare on Thursday afternoon."



No evidence was heard in the case today.



The Sheridans left court hand in hand, accompanied by Mr Anwar, about half-an-hour after the jury was told of his decision.



Evidence was heard throughout last week from former Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) members.



Several witnesses told the jury that Sheridan had admitted during an executive committee meeting of the SSP in 2004 to visiting a swingers' club.



Former SSP leader Colin Fox also told jurors that Sheridan had asked him to lie about minutes of the meeting where Sheridan allegedly admitted visiting the club.



The jury was shown part of a video where a man identified by witnesses as Sheridan admitted visiting the club called Cupid's.



The seven-page indictment against the Sheridans contains three charges in total, two of which are broken down into a number of sub-sections.



Sheridan denies lying to the courts during his case, which followed the newspaper's claims that he was an adulterer who had visited a swingers' club.



It is alleged he made false statements as a witness in the defamation action on July 21, 2006.



One of the charges alleges that he had sexual relationships with Katrine Trolle between January 2000 and December 2005 and with Anvar Khan between January 1994 and September 2002, though during the defamation action he said he did not.



He also denies another charge of attempting to persuade a witness, Colin Fox, to commit perjury shortly before the 23-day legal action got under way.



Gail Sheridan denies making false statements on July 31 2006, after being sworn in as a witness in the civil jury trial at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.