Last year, I covered the Tommy Sheridan trial – outspoken Scottish socialist leader, campaigner, ex-member of the Scottish parliament and rampant egotist. Sheridan had sued the tabloid newspaper, the News of the World, because it had made lurid allegations about his private life e.g. that he’d visited swingers clubs and had sex with various women (other than his wife).
But the real crux of the matter was whether Sheridan’s working-class-hero image was a sham and that he was really a champagne guzzling sex addict who had thought nothing of lying to his family, his political allies and, of course, the ‘people’. Sheridan’s case against the newspaper was sensationally upheld and the News of the World were ordered to pay costs.
However an perjury enquiry was immediately launched. Had Tommy Sheridan and his witnesses lied in court? More than a year later, the enquiry has concluded that there is enough evidence to bring Sheridan to trial for perjury and perhaps others too.
Sheridan describes the proceedings as a witch-hunt instigated by the Murdoch Empire (Rupert Murdoch owns the News of the World). This, I think, is pure ego. The News of the World is an odious publication and I wish it didn’t exist. But I can’t see why Murdoch would consider Sheridan important enough to pursue over many years in expensive court battles. Hasn’t Murdoch got more important tasks to carry out in his quest for world domination?
The truth is surely that the accounts of evidence given at the original trial were so contradictory that one side had to be lying. The Crown Office instigated the enquiry for that reason and the trial is surely worth investigating. Whoever lied caused vast sums of public money to be thrown away on expensive legal proceedings, and if sufficient evidence has been produced to allow a trial, it’s important that the evidence is properly assessed. If Sheridan is found innocent, we an all draw a line under the case and perhaps just a few people might decide no longer to buy the trash that is the News of the World. If Sheridan is guilty, at least we’ll know how far he deserves to be trusted in the future when he complains about the government wasting taxpayers’ money.