One of the most interesting court cases of recent years has been the on-going saga of Tommy Sheridan VS the Murdoch Empire.
In round one, Tommy Sheridan in a civil case won, and was awarded £200,000 in damages. Part of the reason for his success in round one was his ability as an orator which came in very handy.
However, winning can also have a downside, in this case, the case was referred for a criminal investigation; this later was turned into round two. Instead of facing the Murdoch Empire, he faced the Crown Office. After done well the first time round defending himself, he decided to have a go at defending himself in the criminal case.
That didn’t turn out so well, through-out the trial, evidence was produced that any self respecting jury couldn’t overlook, like video evidence, a confession in front of his SSP colleagues, various un-connected people who corroborated the Crown’s case.
My opinion at the time was that Tommy Sheridan needed a trial lawyer, also I thought, he was guilty based on what reports were in the public domain at the time.
In short, he was fucked all roads!
As to Sheridan doing prison time, I took the view that as he didn’t represent a physical danger to society that community service would be an appropriate sentence, in the end, the Judge decided to sentence him to two years in prison. He spent a year slammed up and then released to proclaim his innocence etc etc.
Now, Tommy Sheridan has suffered another blow in his bid to have his perjury conviction quashed after the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission declined to refer his case to the High Court. His first attempt at getting an appeal, based on the claim that he did not receive a fair trial. Under Article Six of the Human Rights Act 1998, an accused person is entitled to a fair trial; his claim was rejected by judges as "unarguable".
Tommy Sheridan didn’t have a leg to stand on!
At the time that one was going through, I remember chatting to someone who is a judge, and we agreed that Sheridan was stuffed, having a story, isn’t the same as having a case.
The SCCRC has issued an interim 'statement of reasons' in the Sheridan case, this presents a problem for Sheridan as it means no High Court referral.
Since coming out of prison, Tommy Sheridan has played a part in the Scottish independence campaign and is currently doing the rounds with his hope over fear rallies to repair his tarnished career. These activities could be said to give him a lift of sorts, his name although tarnished is still easily recognised in politics despite not being in public office opposed to some people who have been elected and no one knows about.
Tommy Sheridan has his own Party called Solidarity; I met some of them when I stood for election in the Govan by-election in October 2013. They seemed like nice enough people, Joyce Drummond was their candidate and she got 28 1st preference votes. The people who I spoke to seemed quite happy with the result considering that 14 people were standing, I came 7th on 103 votes standing as a candidate in my first election.
So, what does the future hold for Tommy Sheridan?
Politically, it is limbo, currently he is a cheerleader of sorts for the Scottish National Party, his hope over fear rallies give him an audience but because of his previous self inflicted wounds, he is toxic politically. He has the right to continually claim he is innocent, human rights allow for this, as it is free speech but I very doubt that he could sell that to a jury or indeed an appeal board.
Legally, I would say his chances are nil, but then I always thought this, the SCRRC doesn’t strike me as a body who take a casual approach to their duties, if what he has produced isn’t working for them, then it is certainly isn’t going to work for anyone else. Sheridan has the right to submit further representations to the Commission, but I don’t see the SCCRC doing a High Court referral on his behalf.
Once, he has exhausted all avenues, he can either continue saying he is innocent or change his strategy and ‘cough’ to it.
Senior Radical Independence Campaign activist Cat Boyd said of Sheridan:
"Tommy's time needs to be over now. People were very very hurt by what he did....You can't have a united Left with someone so divisive involved."
Tommy Sheridan isn’t going anywhere, politics has been a large part of his life, he has created his own party, and unlike many in politics, he has a certain skill as an orator which comes in handy. Sheridan also has managed to establish himself as a ‘brand’.
Colin Fox, the SSP co-convener, said:
"I think the SCCRC appears to be suggesting what the whole world knows: Tommy Sheridan is a liar. He remains the Lance Armstrong of Scottish politics."
The SSP although on the ‘winning side’ of the criminal trial against Tommy Sheridan, they ‘lost the war’, as well as sinking himself, Sheridan managed to damage the SSP which although unplanned makes them pretty much un-electable.
George Laird verdict…… fucked!
This is based on the fact, if you strip out alleged wrongdoing as Sheridan claims on the part of others in his trial, it still won’t affect the evidence that convicted him like the confession to a room full of witnesses and the videotape. As I wrote earlier, having a story isn’t the same as having a case.
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University