This is my hundredth post since starting on LJ earlier this year. The bulk of the posts have involved television and fake game shows, with Tommy Sheridan and sleaze following close behind. I thought that the immediate aftermath of the defamation case would mean that it was not worth writing anything further about Sheridan. However, the events reported during the week, culminating in various publications today are worth noting.
First, the News of the World has splashed on various witnesses having passed a lie detector test. This is not particularly newsworthy (unless it has decided that in future it will defend defamation cases before the audience in Trisha or Jeremy Kyle) but indicates that in repeating the original story again and again they are confident of their position. A jury has found the stories defamatory. They are no longer relying on qualified privilege to report the stories. They are virtually calling for Sheridan to sue them again. The tactic is interesting, and indicates that the interest in Sheridan’s personal life has not come to an end in the tabloid press. If there are any more stories out there (on which see previous posts on the Sheridan case) I suspect that News INternational will use them. Perhaps next time they’ll use their broadsheet division.
Second, the broadsheets are now publishing story after story, as did the BBC. The Beeb broadcast a documentary (Sex Lies and Socialism available via the watch again facility on the BBC News Scotland website). IN this documentary various witnesses reiterated their original story (including ALan McCombes and Katrine Trolle) and Sheridan referred to those that had given evidence against him as having “scabbed on him” politically. Sheridan’s media offensive has included selling his story to the Daily Record and SUnday Mail (both Mirror Group Newspapers and rivals of the Sun and News of the World, the former now the biggest selling newspaper in Scotland). Further, Sheridan has posed topless for a celebrity photographer. Just how hairy he is will be revealed soon. Gail is to appear on Richard and JUdy, it is rumoured she is to begin a column of beauty tips in the Record, and the Sheridan circus goes on. In his various interviews the language is carefully chosen by Sheridan but in his criticism of his fellow SSP members there were two noteworthy matters. First, Tommy Sheridan has become one of those people who talks about himself in the third person. “they were out to get Tommy Sheridan”; “Tommy SHeridan was not happy” and the like. This sort of thing annoys me but is itself of no consequence. The second is more important. It appeared to me that Sheridan’s criticism of his colleagues was coupled with a concern – not that the story of these SSP activists was untrue but that they should not have given evidence on behalf of Murdoch’s newspapers. For the victor in a defamation case this is odd. However, it then puts some of today’s stories in context.
The Observer has published a lengthy interview with Katrine Trolle where she again sticks to her story. Although couched with comments that Sheridan won, the remarks of Trolle are largely unqualified. Will Sheridan sue? Trolle was unusual among the witnesses in having no financial motive (she received no payment from the News of the World) and was alleged by Sheridan to have a political motive. Then the Observer and Scotland on SUnday publish a story that six SSP activists (and non-executive committee members) have published a statement indicating that Sheridan admitted the substance of the News of the World allegations to them. A source close to Sheridan (as the media put it) has suggested that they should have given their evidence in court against him (compare and contrast with the comments in the BBC documentary ).
Further the sleighted members of the SSP have hit back. Alan McCombes has on the SSP website published a detailed critique of the position for the SSP membership as well as printing the controversial minute.
This is not over. The SSP is tearing itself apart, but after the inflammatory comments in the BBC documentary at the start of the week now the 11 News of the World witnesses (and others) have Sheridan in their sights. What price now Sheridan surviving in Holyrood after the election next year?