Sheridan to Face Police in Perjury Inquiry; Crown Office Orders a Criminal Investigation into New Video Evidence

Article excerpt

Byline: STUART NICOLSON

TOMMY SHERIDAN faces a criminal investigation for perjury in the wake of sensational new evidence in the sex case that saw him awarded [pounds sterling] 200,000 damages.

Prosecution chiefs yesterday ordered a criminal probe into claims that either the MSP or his former Scottish Socialist Party colleagues must have lied on oath during his court battle with the News of the World.

Lothian and Borders Police last night confirmed it had begun an investigation.

Mr Sheridan won the massive damages from the newspaper in August after it printed claims that he had cheated on his wife Gail, indulged in orgies and gone to a swingers' club.

But it has now produced a video, recorded by Mr Sheridan's former friend George McNeilage, which it claims shows Mr Sheridan admitting the allegations.

Police sources confirmed the tape is now set to form part of the inquiry.

The Crown Office announced in the immediate aftermath of the case that it was reviewing transcripts of the evidence after the trial judge said there would have to be a perjury probe given the wildly conflicting testimony.

During the marathon court battle, the bitter fallout from which split the SSP in two, Mr Sheridan and his supporters insisted the sex claims had been fabricated.

But others, including MSP colleagues, testified that he had admitted at a party meeting in November 2004 that the newspaper's claims were true.

Mr Sheridan, who has dismissed the News of the World video as a fake, has since left the SSP to set up his new party, Solidarity.

He was unavailable for comment last night, but a spokesman said the Crown Office move did ' not materially alter anything'.

But his former SSP colleagues said they welcomed the police probe and that it would have to focus on Mr Sheridan's evidence.

Colin Fox, who replaced Mr Sheridan as SSP leader when the newspaper claims first emerged, said: 'I had no knowledge that there was a tape and we certainly do not have any involvement in it.

'I would have no dealings with the News of the World and it's not really behaviour that I would condone, taping people in interviews secretly.

'But, having said that, anybody who is going to argue that this tape isn't authentic will find very few allies. It is clearly authentic.

It is clearly Tommy Sheridan and it vindicates what I and my colleagues have said throughout. …