Fiona McCade: A wee word of advice, Tommy: make a fuss of your wife, man

'An honest, fiery, feisty and very formidable woman'

Share

Every day for 24 days, as Tommy and Gail Sheridan drove to Edinburgh's Court of Session to face whatever lurid allegations his sensational defamation case against the News of the World might bring, they sang "Everything's Coming Up Roses" together, to raise their spirits.

It was a sweet, rather old-fashioned choice. I'm surprised Tommy didn't buoy himself up with repeated renditions of "Working Class Hero", or a few choruses of "The Internationale", but there was really only one song that summed up Gail's attitude to the proceedings: "Stand By Your Man".

Since winning the case, and £200,000 damages, Sheridan has attributed his victory to the woman who was always there to hold his hand, gaze adoringly at him and smile, smile, smile. "My wife sticking by me was probably the most significant factor," he said. "The jury saw in Gail an honest, fiery, feisty and very formidable woman."

Tommy was sure Gail would have trusted him anyway, but that didn't stop her from checking and cross-checking his diaries and her work rosters to make absolutely sure he was always where he said he was. Probably the most important moment of the trial came when Mr Sheridan, acting as his own counsel, asked Mrs Sheridan if, as had been suggested, she was only there to stand by him. "There is no way I would be here and neither would you," she replied. "You would be in the Clyde with a piece of concrete tied around you, and I would be standing in court for your murder. You believe that right now." And the jury did.

The testimony of the various women involved in the case was probably the most important. In his closing speech, the News of the World's lawyer told the jury they needed to believe only one woman, the Scottish Socialist Party worker Katrine Trolle, who claimed she had been to swingers' clubs with Sheridan and indulged in group sex with him. This hardly tallied with Gail's portrait of a faithful, Scrabble-playing husband and father, but at this point, something more compelling than mere evidence overwhelmed the courtroom - the irresistible power of cultural stereotypes. The Edinburgh jurors observed Trolle, the self-confessed "liberated, free-thinking Scandinavian", saying she'd had kinky sex with Sheridan and thought, perhaps, she might. Then along came Gail, the gutsy Glaswegian wife and mother, saying she'd murder him if he'd done the dirty on her. And the jurors thought, yeah, absolutely - she would.

The Sheridans believe it was their Clydeside upbringing, that backbone of working-class steel, that saw them through. "They didn't just build ships in Govan, they built people," rhapsodised Tommy, but he was the one that broke down in court and wiped his eyes with a pink hanky. Gail made everyone laugh, as well as scaring the living daylights out of them. "Being the demanding person that I am, I make sure you spend time with me," she announced. "And I have done it for years." This declaration simultaneously made every petrified male juror sympathise with Mr Sheridan, and every admiring female juror yearn for some life coaching from Mrs. Scots women seemed won over by Gail's insistence that she wasn't the kind of wife who would wait meekly for her husband to come home from the orgy.

Ultimately, the man was judged by the quality of his woman and she didn't let him down. She accompanied him in a collection of sophisticated, monochrome outfits, but she was careful not to overdo it. There were no labels, no jewellery, nothing flashy. Let's hope he spoils her a bit after this.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

Read Next
.  

When league tables claim that 0% of students at top schools are getting a good education, it's glaringly obvious that they need to be scrapped

Chris Sloggett
 

If I were Prime Minister: Every privatised corner of the NHS would be taken back into public ownership

Philip Pullman
As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links