Tommy Sheridan – more supporters

A quick google blog search for “Tommy Sheridan” reveals a number of Tommy Sheridan supporters sharing their views on the case.

They include Scottish Socialist Freedom here who argues

“The charge of perjury against Tommy Sheridan is a political crime by the Brit state and an unjustly charge being aimed at him. The real villains in capitalism are the lawyers and judges who lie in the imperialist courts every day in Scotland.

“Tommy Sheridan is simply being stitched up by the reactionary establishment because he has been the champion of the poor and nothing else. Lies are told in Betty Windsor’s courts every day that is why there are defence and prosecution to sort out the mess and attempt to get to the truth or supposedly it should work that way.”;

and Mick Hall, who argues here that

“There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Mr Sheridan would not be coming before Betsy Windsor’s court again if he had not down the years been the tribune of the economically poor within Scotland. If anyone is still gullible enough to believe the British courts act in an independent manner then this case should wake them from their slumbers. For on one side you have Tommy Sheridan and his loyal band of supporters, which include a fair number of ordinary working class people.
“On the other you have the odious Murdoch media empire which in itself would make any decent fellow puke. In my mind for the Murdoch conglomerate and its gofers in the British State to accuse others of telling lies is absolutely surreal and in any honest judicial system it would be laughed out of court.

“So why has the State decided to act now and in the process used hundreds of police man hours and spent over a million pounds investigating and prosecuting Mr Sheridan. Could it be that the Murdoch claims have been hot air, for if what they have been claiming was true Tommy Sheridan was due to get his just deserts in the appeal court any time soon.”

Well, as I pointed out yesterday underlying this case is that the investigation was commenced at the request of Lord Turnbull, as a result of the diametrically opposed evidence by Sheridan (and supporters) and his (now former ) SSP MSP colleagues  and SSP executive committee members, as well as the innocent Katrine Trolle (a witness not paid to give evidence and who had no obvious political motive).  Lord Turnbull had indicated that some people must be lying – and this would involve either an attempt to lie to the court to obtain money (what we’d think of as fraud, and what did for Jonathan Aitken and Jeffrey Archer, everyone’s favourite Lord Pooter) or an attempt to destroy someone’s political career by lying to the court.  This was not an anti-Sheridan matter, it was an acknowledgement by the court that someone (or some people) was (or were) lying for their benefit – unlike most cases where there are shades of grey and contradictory evidence can be viewed as differences in recollection; here, those attending the same SSP executive committee meeting gave directly contradictory evidence to obtain money by deception, or to ruin a man’s career.  Judgs don’t like the law being manipulated for either purpose.  An investigation was inevitable.  But no one knew where the investigation would lead (although many had their suspicions).

This is no Murdoch based conspiracy, no anti-left wing conspiracy (the actions may serve to vindicate those that Sheridan called “Scabs” who had been forced to give evidence – despite their unwillingness to do so – indeed, it must not be forgotten that one of those SSP members spent time in jail for refusing to release paper to the court).  It is an investigation where the evidence of all witnesses has been examined and following close examination of the evidence (checking mobile phone records, interviewing the women working in the club in Manchester, interviewing various other witnesses – including a friend of Tommy who it was alleged had been asked to dispose of evidence and who had lodged a motion at one SSP meeting asking them to destroy evidence that related to the court case, and examining the events subsequent to the original proof in Sheridan v News INternational all of which is accessible via my Tommy Sheridan collection here) a conclusion reached (which is still to be tested in court) that one of those witnesses, the pursuer in the action, lied in order to obtain money from another.  The courts then are protecing the integrity of the legal system.

As for the suggestion that Tommy Sheridan was about to win his appeal?  Not so, earlier in the year the case was sisted (put on hold) pending the police investigation (a fact ignored by BBC solicitor advocate Alistair Bonnington in his Newsnight Scotland interview last night, where he attempted to justify his article of August last year that nothing would happen).  I dealt with this at the time.  Lord Justice Clerk Gill said, “It appears to us that the effect of the continuing police inquiry is to inhibit the defenders (News Group Newspapers) in what they perceive to be the proper preparation of their case for a new trial.”  Further, the Inner House would not hear a case where there was an ongoing criminal investigation directly relevant to the argument to be put before the court in any appeal.  If an appeal had been decided, and a criminal case then heard – a new appeal would be raised and heard based on the new evidence in the criminal case.  There is no point in duplicating matters – and this serves to benefit both Sheridan and News Group by avoiding them incurring unnecessary expenditure in the preparation and hearing of an appeal.

I know this will persuade no-one that wants to believe that Sheridan is ensnared in a conspiracy originating in the UK Labour party wishing to distract people from the loss of benefit data (well that worked, didn’t it...), or the SNP government who having paid off the policemen are now trying to distract attention from Trumpton, or MI5 (as Tommy suggested at one point), or MFI, or Ikea or the White Fish Authority but the police have simply been doing the job Lord Turnbull wanted them to do.  So let’s let the Procurator Fiscal service and the court do their jobs.

ETA  the conspiracy theories esposued by Sheridan supporters have appeared in various places.  Many of the themes originate in the various press releases issued by Sheridan’s own party, SOlidarity.  The press release in relation to the arrest also refers to the police investigation.  The press release is here.  It contains the statement,

“We believe, in this case, that there exists the strong possibility of collusion involving sections of the Scottish legal establishment and Lothian and Borders Police, responding to pressure being exerted by News International, a multinational news and media corporation owned by a man who hardly pays a penny of UK income tax but who exerts, though his various newspapers, an inordinate and corrupting influence over the body politic of this country. The sole aim of News International in all of this from the very beginning has been to destroy the reputation of a prominent socialist and political figure in Scotland because of his political convictions and, more, his effectiveness in communicating those convictions. Tommy Sheridan’s only crime, the real reason that the NotW have gone after him, is that he has spent his entire adult life speaking truth to power, in so doing threatening their own interest in maintaining a status quo of inequality, racism, poverty, and a weak and fractured trade union movement. Some may claim that in this we are delving into the realms of conspiracy theory. Yet it is indisputable that the massive resources exerted on this investigation, with at least £500,000 of public money having already been spent at time of writing, married to the way in which the police have conducted their inquiries thus far, points to a strenuous effort being made to target Tommy Sheridan. “

Used in support of the argument is a line of prominent BBC solicitor advocate Alistair Bonnington where he is quoted as saying, ““The Faculty of Advocates was severely embarrassed by the fact that its two leading QCs in Scotland were involved in this case. Tommy Sheridan sacked one and beat the other. There is something very odd about this.” 

I think the points above address the questions raised in this statement, but for completeness of the Sheridan records it is worth noting the material.
 

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About loveandgarbage

I watch the telly and read when not doing law stuff and plugging my decade and a half old unwatched Edinburgh fringe show.
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9 Responses to Tommy Sheridan – more supporters

  1. pigeonhed says:

    As a layman with only passing knowledge of the personalities involved I suspect that public perception may be that a) Sheridan lied to save his skin, and who wouldn’t and at the same time b) some of his erstwhile colleagues lied or exaggerated to discredit him. A perjury trial may serve to damage both sides credibility, or what remains of it.
    Meanwhile I suspect that you will ahve plenty more to blog about this in 2008.

    • I’d been in a trough for weeks after they cancelled the appeal but now I’m past 50 TOmmy Sheridan posts, with lots more to come 😉
      The thing was that Sheridan didn’t have to sue the newspaper. HIs fellow SSP MSPs did not want him to sue as they felt it would (rightly as it turned out) damage him and the party. It was Sheridan that initiated the action. No-one I work with or am friendly with was aware of the allegations until he raised the court action. Of my friends a few voted SSP (probably reflecting wider Scottish society at that point).
      I’m not sure if the credibility of his fellow SSP MSPs would be damaged. Sheridan’s criticism of some was in quite sexist terms (his comments on Carolyn Leckie in particular), and the then leader Colin Fox seemed to be naive amid the machinations surrounding him. If only Sheridan is charged the SSP ex-MSPs may come out as pretty straight people. Rebuilding the trust in their party could then begin in earnest.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Brilliant piece. I’m just stunned at MacWhirter’s take on the whole thing.

  3. mickhall says:

    Sheridan-more supporters
    Out of interest how many perjury trials have their been in Scotland in the last two years?

    • Re: Sheridan-more supporters
      The most recent criminal justice statistics are for 2005-6 and accessible at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2007/03/21083652/0 . There is no separate category for perjury (although such cases are not unheard of) – any prosecutions would be grouped with those on offences against public justice (ie including other contempts of court and also inclusive of breach of bail orders – so not the most helpful statistical base) and there were 5,598 successful prosecutions in 2005 – 6. Perjury investigations (if not proceedings) were almost inevitable in this case. The involvement of MSPs (as lawmakers in a particularly vulnerable position before the courts if there is any suggestion of dishonesty in evidence), 4 of whom gave one account of a meeting, and 2 of whom gave a diametrically opposed account, meant the judge would have to ask for some inquiry to commence. As I say in my main post – this was either one party out to make money by deception; or four others out to destroy the career of someone that most in Scotland had a respect for (as an honest broker within the Parliament). Either way, the court was being manipulated by someone – and judges don’t like that.
      When the likes of Kevin Williamson (a really important figure in Scottish political writing and publishing over the years and someone I have a lot of respect for) express disillusion at the actions of all concerned (to the extent that he left the SSP and did not join Solidarity) the neutrals among observers start to think something is awry.
      To make my own political position clear, and my own view on Murdoch, to understand where I’m coming from (and I’m just a lawyer who has had experience in private and public sectors, not a politician). I’m generally a Lib dem voter – but have voted for the SNP and Labour (Labour in 1997 in an Edinburgh seat, the SNP at Council elections in 2007). I was the first member of my family to attend University and come from what was a predominantly working class town in southern Scotland. I have never bought a Murdoch newspaper (and returned a Times to the shop when it was delivered one day in place of my regular Guardian), and as a long term admirer of Dennis Potter, share his views on Murdoch’s impact on British broadcasting and print media.
      I read through various posts on your blog and found much of interest – although you come from a different political background. I just find the suggestions that there is an establishment conspiracy here too much. I think that Mr Sheridan is the author of his own misfortune here. His then fellow SSP MSPs and executive committee members urged him not to raise a defamation action. I think they were right, and his decision to ignore them and the impact of on left wing Scottish politics (and consequently the loss of the SSP hair shirt that served as an irritant within the Scottish Parliament) is a tragedy for the left and for Scottish politics generally.
      One of the blogs I read (Alastair’s Heart Monitor) had a little poem about the case at the time ending with
      “When you sue the News of the Screws
      Even if you win, you lose”
      I thought it pertinent then. It is more pertinent today.
      I hope this reply addresses some of the points you raise in your own post, but am happy to engage in further debate.
      Best wishes
      Scott

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