In 2006 Tommy Sheridan famously inflicted a bruising defeat on Rupert Murdoch’s News International by winning a defamation case against the News of the World. The enraged response of the Scottish Crown Office was to initiate a perjury inquiry. This was despite the fact that never before in Scottish legal history has a perjury investigation taken place after a civil case. Moreover, the police investigation only ever had one target, Tommy Sheridan. Even though a jury had decided that it was the News of the World who had lied about his private life.
A two year police investigation costing over £2million and tens of thousands of police hours were spent in trying to find enough “evidence” to bring a case against Tommy Sheridan and his partner Gail. These unprecedented measures are a reflection of the “cold cruelty” of the ruling elite who are going to great lengths to try and destroy a socialist fighter and protect their own class interests. This is linked to the central role played by Tommy Sheridan when he was a member of Militant (forerunner of the Socialist Party) in the mass anti-poll tax movement that led to the resignation of the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
It’s a scandal that while the News of the World have routinely and illegally hacked the phones of potentially thousands of people there have been no charges brought against leading figures in News International. But it’s a different story when it comes to the vendetta against Tommy and Gail Sheridan. Such actions, although unacceptable, are to be expected from the enemies of socialism and the working class.
Scandalous role of SSP leaders
Shockingly however, this court case has also exposed the scandalous role of the leadership of the Scottish Socialist Party, who are central to the prosecutions case against Tommy Sheridan. A large number of the SSP leadership, as in 2006, have once again lined up in court to give evidence against him. However the current trial has uncovered the shocking depths that the SSP leaders have sunk to in an effort assist the Crown’s case and the enemies of socialism.
It has now been revealed that one SSP member, George McNeilage, received £200,000 from the News of the World for a “video tape” supposedly implicating Tommy Sheridan in telling lies during his 2006 case. This tape was sold to the NoTW following the defamation victory in 2006.
The former SSP minute secretary, Barbara Scott handed in to Lothian and Borders police hand written SSP executive committee “minutes” that claimed that Tommy Sheridan had lied during his case. Again this was done only days after Sheridan’s victory against the News of the World and alongside the so-called “videotape” were used by the Scottish Crown to add weight to their perjury investigation.
Incredibly, Alan McCombes, another leading SSP member, went to the Sunday Herald newspaper and gave a ‘sworn affidavit’ in November 2004 just three days after the SSP executive voted to remove Tommy Sheridan as the party’s convenor. In this affidavit McCombes states, “Had he [Tommy Sheridan] not resigned we would have put certain information into the public domain which would have forced him to resign.”
These base methods and actions by the leaders of the SSP in this catalogue of shame have helped destroy the SSP as a political force in Scotland. The current trial sees the biggest media empire in the world, the police, and the legal and political establishment on the one side and a fighter for the working class and the poor on the other. It isn’t difficult for genuine socialists to decide which side they on. That’s why the Socialist Party Scotland and the Committee for a Workers International are giving our full support to Tommy and Gail Sheridan.