… and then there were seven.
Lothian and Borders police confirmed that they had arrested and charged a woman at the weekend (Pat Smith is the popular suspect, the only member of the SSP executive committee who had attended the fateful meeting in November 2004 that had supported Tommy Sheridan’s version of events that had not yet been charged). She joins McIver, Penman, Sheridan, Byrne, and two new entries as of yesterday evening: the fragrant Gail, and her father Gus Healy.
Healy had given evidence supporting Sheridan at the defamation action, claiming they had had a particularly expensive fish supper on the evening of one of the alleged menage-a-trois/quatre/cinq/six (*) .
Gail famously gave evidence about Sheridan’s hairy back, their shared dinners on the nights Tommy was alleged to be otherwise engaged in his four legs good, six legs better. She also said that if the Tomster had carried out his alleged acts he’d have been in the Clyde with concrete around his legs (a claim denied by Tommy in a Radio Five interview which escaped the attention of the Scottish press). Gail attended in faux fur with big dark sunglasses (excusable given the excellent Edinburgh weather yesterday) and left in the dark wearing the same big dark sunglasses (the Edinburgh street lighting is notoriously bright and has blinded many an unsuspecting visitor at Festival time).
On departure Sheridan issued a statement,
“”Can I just say we are really restricted in terms of what we are allowed to say on legal advice.
“The Lothian and Borders Police have today detained a 71-year-old grandfather for over four hours and charged him with perjury.
“They have detained a 44-year-old mother of one who has never been in trouble in her life for over six hours and charged her with perjury. It would appear the streets of Edinburgh and the Lothians must be crime-free. The police have got so much time on their hands that they can harass a family and a group of people who have committed no crime other than being friends of mine or related to me.
“We as a family are disgusted about the way we have been treated. We are dismayed and disenchanted by the behaviour of Lothian and Borders Police, but we are also determined that we will fight on to prove our innocence because our family and friends have done nothing to be ashamed of and certainly do not deserve the treatment that we have been subjected to.
“I really do want to raise the question how Lothian and Borders Police can find the time and the resources to conduct this vendetta against my family and friends.
“There will be no more comments from us. I would appreciate, given that we have come here and faced you, that you stay away from our home. We have a two-and-a-half year-old daughter that has already been traumatised by the behaviour of Lothian and Borders police invading and ransacking our home days before Christmas. We would appreciate if you would not disturb our daughter any longer.
“We have made our statement. It’s all we are allowed to say. I apologise that you have had to wait so long.”
The best line of course his soundbite (and give him his due he is a master of the soundbite) “It would appear the streets of Edinburgh and the Lothians must be crime-free. The police have got so much time on their hands that they can harass a family and a group of people who have committed no crime other than being friends of mine or related to me.”
While he denied matters the contradictory Jim Monaghan (see past posts) issued a press statement on behalf of Solidarity that requires no editorialising (and was helpfully published on the defend Tommy Sheridan website in green ink
“Solidarity maintains that the ongoing perjury investigation into Tommy Sheridan and others who’ve been questioned and subsequently charged this week, is part of a political witch-hunt being carried out at the behest of Rupert Murdoch’s News International Corporation and a Scottish legal establishment left reeling by Sheridan’s victory in his High Court defamation case in the summer of 2006.
The only crime that Tommy Sheridan is guilty of is the crime of speaking truth to power. His is a political reputation built upon an unwavering commitment to speaking out on behalf of the most vulnerable and oppressed in society. He has and continues to speak out against the scourges of low pay, poverty, racism, war and inequality in all its forms – in short, against everything Rupert Murdoch and his vast media empire represents.
The resources allocated to this investigation thus far, both in terms of public money and police manpower, constitutes grounds for a public inquiry. Reports have suggested that over £1million pounds will have been spent by the time this investigation reaches its end. This is an amount that far exceeds the £750,000 spent on the recent ‘cash for peerages’ investigation into corruption at the heart of the British Government. As for manpower, recent news reports have stated that over twenty officers have been working on this investigation full time for over a year. Given that Lothian and Borders Police currently holds the onerous distinction of the worst record of any police force in the country when it comes to successfully investigating cases involving rape, the public has a right to know how they can afford such an allocation of manpower into matters arising from a civil defamation case.
Further, in 2006, whilst Tommy Sheridan was still a sitting MSP, a listening device was found in his car. Surely a public which has been kept fully informed of developments in relation to the ongoing investigation of Tommy Sheridan for perjury should likewise be informed as to why no such developments have taken place with regard to the investigation of a listening device being planted in the car of a sitting MSP?
Questions need to be asked. For example: has the police investigation into the listening device involved Sweeney-style arrests with unmarked police cars skidding into car parks at high speed, as Tommy Sheridan was subjected to? Has it involved home invasions involving nine police officers holding a woman and her infant child hostage while they ransacked her home, as Tommy Sheridan’s wife and child were forced to endure?
Has anyone been questioned in relation to this matter? More specifically, has the editor of the News of The World, Bob Bird, been questioned? After all, this is the editor of the newspaper that was successfully sued for defamation by Tommy Sheridan in 2006. Moreover, last year a high ranking journalist working for this particular newspaper was sent to prison for illegally bugging the private phone conversations of various members of the so-called Royal Family.
Tommy Sheridan and his witnesses have absolutely nothing to fear from any investigation into matters arising from his original defamation case. Throughout they have conducted themselves with integrity and scrupulous honesty. We do, however, question the basis upon which this investigation has been initiated and conducted.
Rupert Murdoch already wields, through his various newspapers and media outlets, an egregious and corrupting influence over the body politic in this country. We demand a public inquiry into the possibility that this influence has now stretched to the workings of our police and legal establishment.
All allegations are denied. The case – as they say – continues.
And soon, it’s over to the PF.
(*) delete inapplicable