Wife of Scottish MP in newspaper libel case is charged with perjury

THE wife of former socialist Scottish MP Tommy Sheridan, has been charged with perjury, he said yesterday.

The move came after Gail Sheridan was questioned for around six hours at Edinburgh's Gayfield police station, where detectives are investigating allegations linked to Mr Sheridan's high-profile newspaper defamation trial in 2006.

His father-in-law, Angus Healy, 71, has also been charged with perjury, it was confirmed.

Mr Sheridan was charged with perjury in December, around 16 months after his defamation trial against the News of the World.

He was awarded 200,000 in damages after he won his case against the Sunday newspaper in August 2006.

Judge Lord Turnbull said that conflicting evidence may have meant some people had been perjuring themselves – an offence that could lead to a prison sentence.

Prosecution authorities later instructed the police to investigate allegations of perjury by witnesses during the trial.

Earlier this month, three colleagues who backed Mr Sheridan in the court action were also charged with perjury – former Scottish Socialist MSP Rosemary Byrne, the Solidarity party national secretary Graeme McIver and Solidarity member Jock Penman.

Mrs Sheridan and Mr Healy, who were key witnesses during the 23-day trial at the Court of Session in Edinburgh, arrived at Gayfield police station in the city shortly after 1pm yesterday for questioning.

Mr Healy emerged from the police station shortly after 5pm and was driven away by Mr Sheridan.

A statement from Lothian and Borders Police said: "A 71-year-old man has been charged and released in connection with an ongoing Lothian and Borders Police investigation.

"A report will be sent to the procurator fiscal. Inquiries are continuing with regards to others."

Mrs Sheridan, dressed in a black coat, black knee-high boots and dark sunglasses, was surrounded by a crowd of reporters, photographers and camera crews as she went into the station.

A star witness in her husband's defence in the defamation trial, she had told the court he "would be in the Clyde with a piece of concrete tied round him" if she thought he had attended swingers' clubs.

Mr Healy provided an alibi for Mr Sheridan for two instances when witnesses alleged he had taken part in a threesome in a Glasgow hotel suite.

The jury of six men and five women later dismissed the lurid allegations made by the paper about the former MSP's private life.

The News of the World is appealing against the verdict and Mr Sheridan has not yet received the money. The appeal was put on hold in September last year until a Crown inquiry could be completed.

Mr Sheridan, 43, was detained and subsequently charged with perjury when police officers swooped outside an Edinburgh radio station, minutes after he had finished his weekend show.

He insisted he was the victim of a "political witch hunt" and said the fight to clear his name would go on for as long as it takes.

The defamation trial, in which several members of the Scottish Socialist Party gave evidence against Mr Sheridan, resulted in a party split, with the firebrand politician later establishing rival organisation Solidarity.