Sheridan charged with perjury in relation to News of World libel case
Tommy Sheridan, former Socialist MSP and now leader of the 'Solidarity' party, has been charged with perjury in relation to his libel win over the News of the World. Sheridan secured a £200,000 libel victory last year after the paper published allegations over his extra-marital affairs, swinging and consumption of intoxicating substances. None of this was, according to Sheridan and an emotive testimony by his wife, in any way true. However the paper and prosecutors had unfinished business following the trial and perceived inconsistencies in the evidence placed before it.
After the trial last August the News of the World described the jury's decision that it had libelled Sheridan as 'perverse' and while it launched an appeal, prosecutors launched an investigation into possible perjury.
Sheridan was outraged by what he described as the heavyhanded tactics of the police surrounding his arrest and charge and claims he is the victim of a witch hunt by the Murdoch empire (see Sky News). Whether he is as 'incandescent with rage' as he was during the libel trial last year when he ended up sacking his lawyers, remains to be seen.
If the prosecution can prove dirty tricks then the headlines he sought to sue over will seem insignificant and be sure to resurface. Proving perjury may not necessarily mean that what the News of the World published was true but if the evidence given in relation to Sheridan's character was embellished or distorted then the reputation he sought ot sue over may have not been such that what the paper printed could be reasonably be held to be responsible for its tarnishing. The courts have in the past (as in the judgment in Grobbelaar v News Group Newspapers) made clear that they are not there to protect the reputations of those who by their own actions are not dederving of such protection.
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