Downfall: The Tommy Sheridan Story
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From prison cell to the political limelight, and back again, there is no doubt that Tommy Sheridan – tanned, handsome and armed with a soundbite for every occasion – was one of the most colorful figures in the drab, dusty world of party politics. Yet behind the charismatic exterior of the man who first came to public notice during the anti-Poll Tax movement and later led the Scottish Socialist Party to become a strong voice in the new Scottish parliament was a deeply flawed, manipulative individual whose own actions led to one of the most spectacular political downfalls in recent history. Written by his closest political associate for over twenty years, and based on a raft of documentary and eyewitness information, much of it appearing in print for the first time, this is the no-holds barred inside story of the rise and fall of one of the most fascinating figures in recent Scottish politics. Combining elements of tragedy, thriller and farce, it presents the stark, ugly truth behind Sheridan's victorious defamation action against the News of the World in 2006 and subsequent perjury trial in 2010, which contained some of the most dramatic courtroom scenes in Scottish legal history. Yet despite the lurid and sensationalist aspects of Sheridan's life and career, this is also a serious exploration of wider political and psychological themes which offers some salutary lessons at a time when public confidence in politicians has seldom been lower.
than lying, Gail – perhaps mistakenly rather than deliberately – had confused Katrine Trolle for another woman she had spoken to at the SSP conference. By an intriguing coincidence, this woman – from an entirely different part of the country from Katrine – had also been involved in a long-term affair with Tommy. She probably had been approached by the News of the World. Tommy, apparently, had ended their affair in early October 2004, just weeks before the Cupids story went to press. I suspected
imagine walking away £200,000 the richer as a result of their crime. This was definitely not an everyday tale of everyday folk. Perjury prosecutions are far less commonplace than prosecutions for breach of the peace or theft but this is not because the courts regard perjury as a trivial matter, like dropping litter in the street. Perjury strikes at the heart of the legal system. It is one of the most serious crimes in the book but, in common with rape – which also has extremely low prosecution
convey the message that this was no political prosecution. He reinforced the point by declaring that Tommy’s previous convictions would be disregarded as irrelevant. ‘But the only appropriate sentence, as you yourself recognise, is imprisonment . . . You 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. You were repeatedly warned by the comrades that it would come to this . . . In all the
he took me to meet George Galloway, the king of the libel courts, in a Chinese restaurant round the corner from the SSP’s office in Glasgow City Centre. George expressed his disapproval of our liberal drugs policy and told Tommy he’d be crazy to sue on the basis of the material which had appeared in the Daily Record. Galloway had just won a sizeable settlement from a local newspaper in the Isle of Man which had run a front-page article accusing the flamboyant MP of hypocrisy a decade earlier by
members had expected. At the end of 2003, the Mirror boasted that it had showered thousand of pounds on Scottish charities via the £200-a-time fee Tommy was paid for his column. The beneficiaries had included ‘abandoned animals, epilepsy charities, burns victims and the brave men and women who have fought for their country’. George McNeilage was also puzzled by Tommy’s mystifying conversion to the cause of Glasgow Rangers Football Club. In the days when they used to go to Celtic Park together as