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.
onto a screen and asked Allison to confirm the accuracy of its contents, which he went through, paragraph by paragraph. Yes, she replied repeatedly. It wasn’t the whole truth, and to protect Tommy’s privacy, I had deliberately omitted his confession to visiting Cupids, but it was enough to confirm that our version had been consistent for four years. No wonder Maggie Scott had judged it best to avoid this mystery affidavit. Towards the end of her cross-examination, Allison told Tommy: ‘You must
a few people suggested it might have been more effective if he had lobbed a hand grenade rather than an egg. George became a close friend of Tommy and a key political ally. Ten years later, in 1996, Tommy was to be the best man at George’s wedding and then, in June 2000, George became best man at Tommy’s wedding – or, more accurately, one of three best men. But, on first resuming his acquaintance with his old classmate, George was struck by a few peculiarities of the post-Stirling University
minutes had been a speculative venture as the paper had no idea what they might contain. But we did. The document consisted of a summary of a statement by Tommy, followed by a similarly condensed version of my response. Then there was a list of those who had contributed to the discussion and an explanation of the decisions agreed by the meeting. In total, the document ran to just two pages but the 1500 words it contained were explosive. The minutes reported that: Tommy responded to a recent
matter-of-fact evidence. ‘Chief Whip’ taunted the headline in the Sun. Compared to what was to come, though, reports of Day One were like extracts from the People’s Friend. Tommy’s bid to use the courts to clean up his reputation was already beginning to resemble the actions of the man who amputated his own leg to relieve a sore toe. Over the next few weeks, Mike Jones QC and his backroom team built up their evidence like a scaffold. We already had a sketchy picture of Tommy’s secret behaviour
no doubt issued stern warnings about the seriousness of perjury. When the full court reconvened, Graeme’s position shifted even further. ‘You are not challenging Mr McCombes evidence?’ asked the QC. ‘No.’ ‘So what he said to the jury is true?’ ‘If he said it, then it’s true, yes.’ The QC then returned to the minutes of the meeting, which Graeme had rejected line by line as inaccurate. ‘Are you seriously suggesting to the jury that all of these inaccuracies are just mistakes that Barbara