Sheridan gets three years for lying in court

Disgraced politician Tommy Sheridan vowed to keep fighting as he was jailed for three years for perjury.

The former socialist member of the Scottish Parliament described his punishment for lying to the courts during his successful defamation action against the News of the World in 2006 as "heartbreaking".

After being sentenced, he announced his intention to appeal against his conviction.

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In a statement read outside court by his solicitor, Aamer Anwar, he said: "This multi-million pound prosecution will separate me from my wife and child and that will be heartbreaking.

"But I will continue to fight a system that protects the real criminals – the rich and powerful."

After a three-month trial at the High Court in Glasgow, Sheridan, 46, was found guilty in December of lying about the newspaper's claims that he was an adulterer who visited swingers' clubs.

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, but she was acquitted when the Crown dropped the case against her last month.

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Mrs Sheridan sat in the front of the courtroom, as close as possible to her husband, as the judge Lord Bracadale delivered his sentence.

And she led the politician and former Celebrity Big Brother contestant's family, friends and comrades in a one-fisted salute as he was led, handcuffed to the cells.

Outside court, Mrs Sheridan said: "Tommy has dedicated his life to helping others.

"The real reason why he's been imprisoned today is because he has fought injustice and inequality with every beat of his heart.

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"But it won't be long before Tommy is back stronger and continuing the fight."

Sheridan's mother Alice also maintained her son was innocent. She said: "He should never have been there. He is an innocent man – it will be proved he is innocent."

Before he was sentenced, Sheridan, who conducted his own defence for most of the trial, said: "I remain a passionate socialist and am determined to put to positive use my time in custody.

"On my release I will return to fight for justice, for equality and for peace."

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Throughout the 12-week perjury trial Sheridan maintained his innocence, claiming he was the victim of a "vendetta" by the police and a "conspiracy" involving the News of the World and colleagues within the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP). He now plans to sue the News of the World over allegations his mobile phone was hacked.

In a statement read out by Mr Anwar, Sheridan said: "Andy Coulson may have resigned for the second time but if he and others are not above the law then it is time that they faced justice."

But the News of the World said the conviction and sentence was a "just outcome". The newspaper has since lodged an appeal against the defamation verdict and the 200,000 awarded to Sheridan.

The jury ultimately convicted him of five of six allegations in a single charge of perjury against him, relating to his evidence during the civil case.

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Lord Bracadale told Sheridan his decision to pursue the News of the World for defamation "brought the walls of the temple crashing down not only on your own head but also on the heads of your family and your political friends and foes alike".

He said: "You embarked on an action in the Court of Session knowing that for it to be successful you would require to tell lies under affirmation."

"In these circumstances the only appropriate sentence, as you yourself recognise, is one of imprisonment."

As he was led away, Sheridan turned to his family and said simply: "Take care. All the best."

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In a joint statement, the Scottish Socialist Party's Frances Curran and Colin Fox said Sheridan had allowed "personal celebrity to displace political principles".

The statement said: "Today's proceedings at Glasgow High Court finally end the ill-advised action Tommy Sheridan initiated six years ago. He alone is responsible for where he sleeps tonight, no-one else. He pursued legal action full in the knowledge he would lie in court."

"He asked his closest political allies and friends to join him in that crazy strategy and then turned on us because we refused."

But Sheridan claimed they – and the 14 other members of the party who testified against him – were involved in a "plot to do me in politically".

Rise and fall of scots socialist

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1998 – The Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) is created. Tommy Sheridan heads the party.

May 1999 – Sheridan is elected as a list MSP.

October 31, 2004: The News of the World publishes a front-page story with the headline: "Married MSP Is Spanking Swinger".

August 4, 2006 – Sheridan wins his defamation action at the Court of Session in Edinburgh against the News of the World. He is awarded 200,000 in damages.

December 16, 2007 – Sheridan charged with perjury.

October 4, 2010 – Tommy and Gail Sheridan go on trial for perjury. Mrs Sheridan was later acquitted.

January 26, 2011 – Sheridan sentenced to three years in jail for perjury.

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