Tommy Sheridan, the colourful Scottish politician who rose to international fame after he won a sensational libel victory against the News of the World over claims he indulged in swinging sex parties, was yesterday accused of lying by the newspaper.
The News of the World printed new allegations that the former leader of the Scottish Socialist Party had lied in court and committed perjury to win £200,000 damages.
It claimed to have obtained a secretly taped video that showed Mr Sheridan "confessing" to a friend the original allegations made by the newspaper.
Mr Sheridan lost no time in branding the story "a pack of lies", dismissing the tape as "fictitious".
"Yet again the News of the World has printed lies and smears against me," he said in a statement yesterday.
The newspaper said the recording had been made by George McNeilage, who was Mr Sheridan's best man at his wedding, and that it had been captured on a hidden camcorder during a visit by the MSP to his friend's Glasgow home.
Mr McNeilage was quoted by the paper explaining that he had not released the video before because he was certain his old friend would lose the court case and it would not be needed.
However, during the five-week trial at the Court of Session in Edinburgh Sheridan secured an unexpected victory. Using his oratory skills and drawing on the emotional strain that the case was having on his family, and especially his relationship with his young child, Mr Sheridan hit back at the newspaper. His 42-year-old wife, Gail, stood by him and even proclaimed that if she thought he was guilty he "would be in the Clyde" and she would be standing trial for his murder. It took the jury of six men and five women just 150 minutes to reach their verdict and find in his favour.
Almost immediately the News of the World said it would appeal against the decision and yesterday reinforced that with the announcement that it would be making the new tape and its experts' opinions on it available to the police.
The newspaper said the videotape had been analysed by four leading authorities on voice analysis, including Tom Owen, who has worked on the verification of Osama bin Laden tapes for the CIA, and that they were satisfied it was genuine.
Mr Sheridan, who last month cut his ties with the Scottish Socialists and formed his own new party, denied the new allegations.
"They have a former friend whom I haven't spoken to for two years tell lies about me," he said.
"Mr McNeilage must be seriously hard up to lower himself to the gutter and cooperate against a former friend. A fictitious tape has been invented, concocted, and unleashed on a Scottish public sick to the back teeth of the News of the World's constant lies.
"They [the News of the World] will not forgive me for humiliating them. Their vendetta against me, my family and my political beliefs continues. They are trying to break me politically and personally. They will fail on both counts."
Former colleagues within the SSP yesterday called on Mr Sheridan to resign his parliamentary seat.Reuse content