You're a liar who wants to bring me down, Sheridan tells accuser

Politician turns cross-examiner to question woman who says he visited swingers' club
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The Independent Online

Tommy Sheridan fiercely cross-examined a former supporter in court yesterday over her claims that he had a four-year affair with her, as well as group sex at a swingers' club.

In a series of highly-charged exchanges, the former Scottish Socialist Party leader, who is representing himself in the perjury trial at Glasgow High Court, accused Katrine Trolle of being a "conscious liar" and claimed that on the occasions when she alleged they were having sex, he was in fact at a tanning salon with his wife.

Before beginning his questioning of the 36-year-old Dane, Mr Sheridan apologised for his conduct the previous day, saying he had been "chastised" for shouting at witnesses by both the trial judge and his wife Gail, who is also accused of perjury.

Promising to keep his voice down, he went on to insist that Ms Trolle was lying when she claimed to have had sex with him in his marital bed, in his office at Glasgow City Chambers when he was a councillor and to have taken part in a threesome with him and his brother-in-law.

He said that she was part of a plot "to bring him down" hatched by other members of the left-wing party and accused her of telling "very cunning and devious lies", adding: "You don't care who you hurt or who you destroy."

Ms Trolle, who met Mr Sheridan during a by-election campaign in 2000, admitted she had initially been impressed with the socialist leader, but that any plot to topple him "existed mostly in his mind".

She said: "There is only one person lying in court and it is you. You can call me guilty of getting my facts wrong; of being naive and silly.

"I'm guilty of thinking you had charisma and I'm guilty of having sex with you. Yes, I'm guilty of all these things, but I'm not guilty of lying in court."

Mr Sheridan and his wife Gail, both 46, are accused of lying under oath during his successful defamation action against the News of the World four years ago. He won £200,000 damages over the newspaper's story that he was an adulterer and had visited Manchester sex club, Cupid's.

He is also accused of trying to persuade another party member to lie for him. Both he and Mrs Sheridan deny the charges. The socialist firebrand parted company with his defence advocate Margaret Scott QC last week and has been given special permission by the trial judge to conduct cross-examinations from the lectern rather than the dock.

He accused Ms Trolle of working with the Sunday newspaper to make up stories against him and of being "coached" by the police before she gave evidence – claims she angrily denied, saying she had not been paid by the tabloid and had never wanted the matter to come to court. He said there were inconsistencies between what she now claimed and her original evidence at the 2006 libel trial. She in turn insisted that she found the process of giving evidence about such intimate matters extremely difficult. She said: "It's very, very stressful having to talk about your private and sexual life in front of a courtroom full of people, then having to do it for a second time." Mr Sheridan hit back: "It's also very stressful having to sit and listen to those types of conversations, but we are trying to establish the truth." He said Ms Trolle's claim that she had noticed a sunbed at his home was wrong and he showed the court his wife's diaries which detailed visits to a tanning salon, including one time when they walked through snow to get there. He also said it was wrong to refer to Andrew McFarlane as his brother-in-law at the time of the alleged threesome as he was then unmarried.

Mr Sheridan later showed the trial his diary for the year 2002, with entries in handwriting that did not match his own. One read: "Tommy loves Gail so much," followed by: "Gail can't wait to go back to Brussels with her husband."

He told the jury they would later hear evidence that the writing was his wife's.

The trial, which is due to last up to 12 weeks, continues.