Scottish politician jailed after lurid trial

26th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

The former leader of the Scottish Socialist Party, Tommy Sheridan, was jailed for three years for perjury on Wednesday after a lurid trial involving claims he visited a swingers' club.

Sheridan, 46, was convicted in December of lying to the court during his successful defamation action against the News of the World tabloid newspaper in 2006.

After representing himself at a three-month trial at the High Court in Glasgow -- the longest perjury case in Scottish legal history -- he had been found guilty of lying about the paper's claims that he was an adulterer who visited the sex club.

In a statement before sentencing, the pugnacious politician and one-time "Celebrity Big Brother" contestant maintained that the News of the World's original story was a "pack of lies".

"I accept custody is inevitable," he added. "The punishment is the conviction itself and the impact it will have on my family."

He maintains he was the victim of a vendetta by former political allies.

Sheridan's wife Gail, who was acquitted of the same charge last year, has pledged to stand by her husband.

Judge Alastair Campbell described Sheridan as a "hard-working" politician, but told him that "by pursuing and continuing to pursue a defamation action, you brought the walls of the temple crashing down not only on your own head but also on your family and your political friends and foes."

A News of the World spokesman said: "This is a just outcome to a long and complex criminal case.

"Today's sentence also provides closure for the many witnesses who very bravely exposed their own lives to public scrutiny when they testified to Mr Sheridan's guilt."

© 2011 AFP

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