Tommy Sheridan update

It has been a few days since my last update on Sheridan matters  In the interim my thanks to those who are sending me information.  My contact e-mail address is on my user information page. The blogosphere has been fairly quiet, but the forces behind the defend Tommy Sheridan campaign are moving.

It appears that The Beatles support the Tomster (listen carefully to the opening few minutes as pointed out by the leftpost blog in the funniest contribution from the left thus far on the affair) in a recording some time before the Tomster’s first megaphone yell.

One commentator – Richard Vivian – buys into the Sheridan line that the police investigation was initiated by Rupert Murdoch as an anti-Sheridan mechanism (a line that was trotted out by Iain MacWhirter before Christmas in The Guardian and which I considered at the time). I attempted to reply to MacWhirter’s piece on Comment is free but mysteriously my post (repeating some of the points I made in my LJ entry) was not published. Contacting the comment is free team to get some explanation for this omission of my view when those proposing the Sheridan conspiracy theory were merrily published elicited no response from The Guardian, despite reminder e-mails sent over the festive season. Anyway, Vivian writes,

“All right minded socialists would condemn any attempt by the wealthy and influential capitalist press to use the resources and power of the police to do their dirty work for them, as seems to be happening. It seems that Murdoch, an American billionaire who doersn’t pay a penny tax in this country, can just snap his fingers and get the police in Scotland to do his bidding. Activists remember the thousands of hours of Liverpool police time wasted trying to get some dirt on Derek Hatton, deputy leader of the Liverpool Council guilty only of fighting the Tories on behalf of working people. We remember the absurd charges circulated against miners’ leader Arthur Scargill of siphoning off union funds in the great miners’ strike of 1984-85.

The problem with this perspective is that it wasn’t Murdoch or the Murdoch press that initiated the action. As I have explained previously the action was initiated by Lord Turnbull who was faced with directly contradictory evidence from elected politicians in the court. Either one party (and his cohorts) was (were) lying to obtain money; or one party (and others) was (were) lying to destroy a man’s career. It was this contradiction that prompthed the investigation, before there was any indication of an appeal. This is because judges take blatantly lying in court (in civil cases particularly) seriously. However, Mr Vivian has an explanation for this.

“Socialists would also say that lies are sometimes justified against the forces of the establishment in order to defend the gains of working people, and would quote the example of John McLean in his famous declaration to the capitalists court that “I come here not as the accused but as the accuser of capitalism.”” 

Given the problems that such an approach would cause in the justice system (and the potential explanation for one or both sides in their evidence in the case) it is worth reiterating

Socialists would also say that lies are sometimes justified against the forces of the establishment “

I suspect such a defence will not wash in any High Court action.

Anyway, Mr Vivian then goes on to analyse the split within the Scottish socialist movement and claims that the division within the Scottish left wing parties was inevitable,

“In drifting away from their marxist roots and attempting to court populism through alliances with the supporters of bourgeois nationalism, the die was cast for inevitable splits. That is the way of sectarian parties which try to operate outside the mass movement.”

I was never sure to what extent the voters for the SSP (as was) were committed to the cause of Scottish nationalism – but note that the reallocation of votes in 2007 primarily to the SNP after the split between the SSP and Solidarity suggests that the nationalist element should not be underestimated as one of the reasons for the appeal of the SSP in 2003.

I have also been sent a few pieces of promotional literature regarding the Tomster’s fight under the banner. The material is from Solidarity but appears to have been circulated widely.

Reading the leaflet, illustrated with Tommy brandishing his fist in triumph after the defamation case, gives an air of familiarity as it is a transcript of the post on the Defend Tommy Sheridan homepage which relies heavily on the views of Alistair Bonnington, whose opinions on the investigation I have considered here (among other places). Accompanying the material is a petition calling for (in enormous bold type)

(a) End Murdoch’s witch-hunt
(b) No public money for billionaires campaign
(c) A public inquiry into the actions of the police, the legal establishment and the Murdoch empire 

I have circulated this among friends, and colleagues, but aside from the second strand there haven’t really been any takers.  But if there is a campaign simply to prevent public money going to billionaires could someone provide the details and I will willingly sign up.

There is also a poster of blocky bold type reiterating the central pleas of the campaign. 

If you visit the Defend Tommy Sheridan site as well as the general article you can also cut and paste a letter to the Crown Office complaining about the case as a politically motivated investigation, which “give[s]succour and encouragement to the Murdoch media empire who have made it clear all along by their actions that they were out to get Tommy Sheridan. For the Crown Office to used in this way as part of Murdoch’s vendetta is shocking in the extreme. ”  (which ignores the origin of the complaint to the Crown Office (a Court of Session judge) and ignores the fact that the action which led to the complaints was initiated by one T Sherdian, esq)  The letter then goes on to make points similar to those raised by Iain MacWhirter in the article referred to above.

So, who is backing Tommy?  The website has not been updated since 3rd January but includes some interesting names – Roger Bannister (not that one I assume), Hugh Kerr (the former MEP and Sheridan’s former press officer – who is listed as being at the Scottish Executive), Bob Crowe, “Gorgeous” George Galloway, Dave Nellist, Chris Bambery, the editor of Socialist Worker, Gerry Conlon, Paddy Hill (both of whom suffered injustices far in excess of this process – where the Tomster is yet to face a trial), the mysterious “ghostboy”, representatives from Respect renewal and Respect, and Lynn Sheridan (so it’as good to see that the Tomster’s sister is backing him up).

The facebook group currently has 148 members (twice as many as my appreciation society) and had a recent plea from Jim Monaghan (a candidate in the last election) calling for people to sign up at the main website.

The groups may not be as popular as the Tomster was expecting.

Meanwhile, Tommy’s solicitor Aamer Anwar, was the complainer in a criminal case in Glasgow sheriff court last week alleging a racially aggravated breach of the peace.  The accused was found not guilty and Mr Anwar criticised by the sheriff as follows in considering the evidence,

There were certain aspects in which Mr and Mrs Anwar were not credible.”

Thus far there have been no further arrests in the Sheridan case and the case – as they say – continues.

In the meantime keep ’em peeled and a further update will follow soon.

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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