Scotland’s most famous and charismatic politician Tommy Sheridan was today sentenced to three years in prison, pronounced guilty of lying under oath in a defamation case that netted him $320,000. (via Financial Times)
Sheridan, 46, was last month found guilty by a majority verdict at a high court in Glasgow of lying about stories published in the News of the World that he had adulterous affairs and visited a sex club in Manchester with two of his lovers.
Soon after those tawdry tales appeared in print in 2006, he took out a defamation action against the News of the World where he persuaded a jury that the tabloid had lied about his private life. Sheridan was awarded damages, but was quickly put under investigation for perjury. Given Wednesday’s perjury verdict, News of the World is now appealing the 2006 libel trial verdict, demanding repayment of legal costs.
During the 12-week perjury trial, Sheridan denied that he had ever admitted visiting the Manchester club Cupids to his former colleagues in the Scottish Socialist party (SSP). But on Dec. 23 the jury delivered the guilty verdict, pronouncing that he had in fact lied about not only those conversations but also an affair with Katrine Troll, a former SSP member.
The high-profile trial also included testimony from Andy Coulson – at the time David Cameron’s head of communications – and Scottish Sun editor Bob Bird who both gave evidence against Sheridan. Sheridan’s wife Gail, who has vowed to stand by her husband, was also accused of lying to the jury at the Court of Session in Edinburgh in 2006, but she was acquitted when the Crown dropped the case against her last month. Gail arrived and left with her husband daily.
Tonight, Sheridan begins a three years sentence, but his conviction means he will be unable to stand again for Scottish parliament — which might be a problem if he has to pay back over $300,000 in legal expenses to the News of the World.
In spite of the mounting controversy, his wife has promised to stick by him despite the conviction.