Leading Scottish journalist Iain MacWhirter has written an odd piece on Comment is Free. He is critical of the police even investigating the TommY Sheridan defamation case, echoing the views of AListair Bonnington in his BBC website article last year.
“Perjury investigations are very rare even in criminal cases in Scotland, and it is unheard of for such an investigation to follow a defamation action. “
He also states,
“However, there is something perverse, surely, in the police devoting such time and money to pursuing a litigant in a civil action 18 months after the jury had made its decision. Whatever you think of the perma-tanned Tommy Sheridan and his eccentric politics – his radio signature tune is “I’m the King of the Swingers” – this is surely using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. “
Well, Mr MacWhirter to explain why it matters. Originally the police were asked by Lord Turnbull to look at the evidence presented because the evidence of Sheridan was diametrically opposed to that of the other attendees at an SSP executive committee meeting. Lord Turnbull indicated that one lot was lying. Judges don’t like being lied to. Not when the motive is either to make money, or to destroy someone’s career (the two competing motives in the case). The police investigated, and obviously their investigations (including interviewing the staff of the club in Manchester, tracking the mobile phone records and the like) suggested they had evidence that one of the parties was lying. If that party is the pursuer in the action then this opens up a whole new element. Ordinarily in the law if you attempt to obtain money by deception this is usually viewed as fraud. Attempting to obtain £200,000 by deception (which appears to be the crux of the allegation which underlies the charge of perjury) is usually viewed as being pretty serious, Mr MacWhirter. you can get the gaol for that. For years. Now, using the court to do so upsets the judges (rightly) and impacts on the integrity of the legal system. That’s why it matters Mr MacWhirter. This is no witch hunt, no anti-left wing conspiracy. It’s about a system reacting against its being manipulated by someone that it is alleged was out for financial gain at the expense of the truth. Now, some – like Mr MacWhirter – might think a potential £200,000 fraud isn’t important. I, and obviously Lothian and Borders police, disagree.
Let the case go to court then and let a jury decide.