Since beginning the Love and Garbage LJ the postings have mainly been about garbage: television, the quality of which is a subject I find about deeply; and the strange affair(s) of Tommy SHeridan and his political parties. During the veritable plethora of Sheridan posts I suggested – in the aftermath of his court victory – that the tabloids would have him in their sights. I thought that next time they wouldn’t miss.
Well, the first shots in the post-case battle were banal. The News of the World relied on that daytime TV staple – the lie detector test. I must confess I was disappointed in the News of the Screws. I had assumed that given the various stories out there (see the final paragraph of this post for links) found by someone such as myself with minimum fuss and without the funding for research that lies behind a national newspaper that the Screws would have delivered a devastating blow at a fairly early stage.
However, they bided their time. They passed up one story that money had been offered to witnesses not to give evidence. Even the news that the whole of the evidence was to be investigated in a perjury investigation provoked little comment from the Screws. The reason for the silence became apparent today.
The News of the World have Tommy on tape, recorded in a secret pre-trial recording by George McNeilage one of his best men who gives his reasons for giving the story to the News of the World. The tape made by an SSP activist apparently at the request of SSP activists concerned about the stories surrounding Sheridan appears to have been released as a result of Sheridan’s post hearing behaviour. Rather than graciously retire from the public scene for a while Sheridan went on the offensive. He called his former colleagues that testified against him “Scabs”, and made other derogatory remarks about them in a BBC documentary. At the time various bloggers suggested that Sheridan should have shown more humility. Alastair in the ever-entertaining almax blog suggested that Sheridan’s TV appearance contrasted with the quiet dignity of the SSP activists in a youtube broadcast. Kevin WIlliamson made much the same point in his public resignation letter from the SSP. And Sheridan’s gloating, his air punching and the look of disbelief on Gail’s face as left the court on the day of the decision, the subsequent rubbing it in to the loyal SSP executive members, the taking the Record shilling, and the splitting of left wing politics in Scotland through establishing Solidartomsc has pushed McNeilage into revealing the tape to a Murdoch newspaper.
They include the following:
an admission that he had visited the Cupids club in Manchester twice (and had confessed to this to two of the witnesses the News of the World used in his case);
an attempt to use his previous relationship with Anvar Khan as the basis for challenging her evidence – Tommy is quoted as saying in this context,
“There’s been a few sessions. In 1992, me and ***** were sh*****g her. 1992, which is in certain respects my saving grace because if there’s any story about what she knows about my personal habits or if she knows about I’ve got a hairy back or a hairy a***, of course she does because she f*****g sh****d me and I’ve admitted that. That’s out in the open. That’s a matter of public record. “ (the coyness of the News of the Screws in relation to the swearie words always amuses me).
that he intended to face down the News of the World because he felt they had nothing on him;
there is also a detailed set of comments about the Executive committee meeting and the political pressure Sheridan felt he was under. BUt potentially most damning for Sheridan is one alleged admission made on the tape.
“I go to the meeting. I go in. It’s a room. The front room of the centre.
“There’s 19 people round a f*****g circle, sitting on desks, sitting on chairs. The atmosphere you could have cut it with a f*****g knife, man. Cut it with a knife.
“Duncan f*****g shaking, shaking. f*****g (inaudible).
“I then make the biggest mistake of my life by confessing something in front of 19 f*****g, what am I doing confessing in front of these c****?
“C**** like this are telling me about how best to come forward and f*****g put my hand up, right? “
If it is true that Sheridan said this then he’s into dangerous territory. 11 people gave evidence to this effect in the defamation case. 4 (including his fellow breakaway MSP in Solidartomsc Rose Byrne) plus Sheridan did not. If the alleged comment is true then Sheridan may have perjured himself.
Would the tape of itself found a case for perverting the course of justice? I’m not sure. But I’m sure that the Lothian and Borders constabulary will be wanting a look and that those that assumed that no criminal proceedings would follow (including the BBC’s solicitor Alistair Bonnington) may now realise that when a tabloid guns for someone – especially after a bitter defamation case - the realpolitik is that they do their damnedest to finish them off. To that end, and to assist their police readership, the Screws has published a handy cut out and keep guide to the alleged lies of Tommy in the case as exposed by the tape. They identify 24 lies.
The BBC quotes him as saying,
the paper’s story was “lies and smears”.
“They have a former friend whom I haven’t spoken to for two years to tell lies about me.
“Mr McNeilage must be seriously hard up to lower himself to the gutter and co-operate 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.
“My new party, Solidarity, grows daily while my relationship with my wife, Gail, is unbreakable. [ on which point see Tommy's comments on the Simon Mayo show on 31st August which generated little comment in the Scottish media]“
The story continues…
And while it’s not as politically important as the loans for honours business down south, in the Scottish political village, Sheridan’s protracted Shakespearian demise is compelling reading and viewing.