Tom Watson MP Wants An Investigation into Tommy Sheridan Prosecution – Why?

The Firm Magazine reported on Monday that Tom Watson MP has raised further issues about the Tommy Sheridan trial. He is quoted as saying:-

“It’s now absolutely certain that the judgment is unsound and if Alex Salmond had a shred of decency he would use all the power he has to ensure that this is urgently dealt with.

There have been key revelations about the inadequacies of the original revelations and the methodology used by the executives working for Rupert Murdoch in the Sheridan case.

It’s certain the jury would have reached another verdict if in possession of all the facts and Alex Salmond has to ask the Crown Office to investigate how on earth this case was even brought and why it went to trial.”

As my long time reader will know, I wrote a lot about the Sheridan case last year on this blog, before it became “obsessed” about an SFL3 football team.

Some points arise from the statement quoted above.

 

“It is now absolutely certain that the judgement is unsound”.

I have not yet seen anything concrete produced by Mr Watson which states in what way the verdict of the jury, who sat through weeks of evidence, was “unsound”. Mr Watson, as far as I am aware, did not attend the full trial. He may have been privy to the records of Mr Aamer Anwar. Mr Anwar was formerly Mr Sheridan’s solicitor. He assisted his ex-client, or more correctly the court, at the trial by acting as amicus curiae once Mr Sheridan had dispensed with the services of Maggie Scott QC. She is now to be elevated to the High Court Bench.

I have relied on the excellent work of James Doleman and his Sheridan Trial Blog, which provides by far the most through, comprehensive and detailed account of the trial.

It is rather presumptuous of Mr Watson to have the certainty he claims in suggesting that the jury verdict was unsound.

The parts of the indictment where the jury convicted Mr Sheridan were primarily unrelated to the evidence of the News International witnesses. As I have mentioned before, only one of them, effectively, was called as a Crown witness.

Mr Sheridan’s appeal against conviction was refused without a hearing on the basis that the grounds argued were unsupportable. Mr Sheridan, it is understood, has applied to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission and has sought their consideration of the case, and the SCCRC might refer the case back to the appeal court.

However none of that shows how the judgement of the jury is now certainly unsound.

 

“It’s certain the jury would have reached another verdict if in possession of all the facts”

Perhaps oddly I broadly agree with Mr Watson on this point, although not with the confidence he espouses. However, that does not, in my view, make a difference as regards the conviction.

The issue is the relevance of the “facts” he refers to.

It is clear that some people in News International did various things which they ought not to have done, and whether criminal or not (and the process to determine this is ongoing) there were many acts which were reprehensible.

If Mr Sheridan’s trial took place today, or indeed at any time after last summer’s revelations about “phone hacking”, it is likely, in my view, that a jury would not have convicted him. However that would not have been because of the relevant evidence at the trial, but simply that the huge coverage of News International’s failings would have been enough, even subconsciously, to sway sufficient jurors for there not to be a conviction.

Where a party to a case (although technically News International was not “party” to the criminal trial) has a blackened reputation, then it would be human nature for jurors, despite the best directions of the trial judge, possibly to be influenced by this.

That does not mean that the verdict would have been a unanimous “not guilty” after five minutes’ consideration, but instead that there would have been enough of an effect to change the necessary couple of votes to not proven or not guilty.

The problem is, as has been recognised by the High Court in refusing the appeal at both sifts, that the evidence of the wrongs of News International was almost wholly irrelevant to the charges faced by Mr Sheridan.

Therefore, whilst I think it is right that a trial today would arrive at a different verdict, that does not affect the safety of the conviction.

 

“Alex Salmond has to ask the Crown Office to investigate how on earth this case was even brought and why it went to trial”

One of the issues in this case, which seems to be forgotten from time to time, is that the case arose as a result of Mr Sheridan pursuing a claim for damages and being awarded £200,000. The judge who presided at that case was so concerned by the evidence he heard that he referred the matter for investigation.

If Mr Sheridan had lost his civil claim, there would not have been a perjury case brought against him (you see I can be certain too). However, he won.

Where a judge refers a case for investigation, as happened here, Crown Office will pay a great deal of attention to it, and rightly so. That does not mean that Crown Office will pursue a prosecution simply because a judge suggests a matter be investigated, but the case will have more than a cursory glance.

It seems to be Mr Watson’s position that the case ought not to have been raised, never mind tried, because there were some rotten apples in Wapping. If the criminal justice system is to be based on the morality or criminality of the alleged victim, as seems to be his suggestion, then there are great many areas where this would alter how the law deals with cases. I suspect however that is not in fact Mr Watson’s view.

It also seems a little unfair to Mr Salmond to be roping him into this!

 

If there is an investigation, who should conduct it?

Professor Robert Black QC commented on the Scottish Government’s response to Mr Watson’s call in The Firm magazine. The piece reads, in part:-

It was reported today that the Scottish Government said ministers would not personally intervene over Mr Sheridan’s conviction, but said that any concerns about a case “could be taken up with the administration’s top law officer, Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland”.

Professor Black said “For the Scottish Government to suggest to concerned citizens that their remedy is to ask the Crown Office to conduct an investigation into misconduct in a criminal investigation and prosecution when the Crown Office is now headed, not by independent lawyers brought in from private practice, but by career civil servants from that very office, is nothing short of risible”.

Now Mr Watson is calling upon the First Minister to ask Crown Office to investigate Crown Office. As Professor Black has commented previously, when the Lord Advocate and Solicitor General were appointed from the Bar, and the posts had not become the top of the career ladder in the Crown Office and Fiscal Service, as they now seem to be, that might have made sense. The independence of the Law Officers, both from Government and from their own prosecution service were guarantees, as far as such can be guaranteed, that the question of the public interest in prosecuting was always at the forefront of the mind, rather than any more partisan motive.

Now, with career prosecutors as Lord Advocate and Solicitor-General (and this is not intended to be a slight on either of them, as they are both very experienced and highly capable lawyers) the phrase that comes to mind is that of CLR James in “Beyond a Boundary”.

“What do they know of cricket who only cricket know?”

In the same way, as regards the Law Officers, what do they know of prosecution, who only prosecution know?

The “independence” of the prosecution service in Scotland is a much wider question than I will deal with in this post, but I entirely agree with the learned Professor here.

 

Should there be an investigation at all?

Dealing with the merits of the call by Mr Watson however, why should there be an investigation? There is a review process open to Mr Sheridan, through which he is proceeding. There remains the possibility that the case could end up back at a re-trial.

More likely, if the issue is to go back to court, is a re-hearing of the original civil case. That has been delayed pending further progress in the criminal prosecutions arising from News International.

However, it is perfectly possible that the cases could end up with Mr Sheridan still winning his defamation case, even after a re-trial, but having his conviction remain in place. That is because the two cases, whilst standing on similar foundations, were not on identical issues.

Having an inquiry into why there was a case brought seems to me to be (a) unnecessary (b) a foregone conclusion (for the right reasons) (c) a waste of money and (d) even if none of the above, premature.

 

Conclusion

Mr Watson has done sterling work in connection with his pursuit of News International, both in the media and on the Culture Select Committee.

He does however appear to have taken the view that, by definition, anyone in dispute with Rupert Murdoch is by definition right.

Mr Sheridan was the author of his own misfortune.

He attended the now infamous “Cupids”.

He chose to sue the News of the World.

He asked his colleagues to lie to support him.

He fought his case so eloquently that he won.

At every step of the way he could have abandoned the fight.

His supporters claim, as does Mr Sheridan himself, that he was victim of a Murdoch-led conspiracy to do him down. Professor Gregor Gall, in his excellent “From Hero to Zero” lays that myth to rest.

Tommy Sheridan’s conviction will remain a cause celebre for many years, always linked to the demise of the News of the World in the public eye. The perception is being raised that he must have been wrongly convicted because of the iniquities of Wapping.

However Mr Watson’s continued pursuit of the matter seems to be missing a huge number of points, and ultimately distracts from what has been his core message over recent years, namely that the reprehensible things were done in the name of News of the World.

Of far greater importance for Scotland is the point made by Professor Black which I have quoted, dealing with the independence of the Law Officers. One cannot expect Mr Watson, an MP for an English constituency, to be beating that drum, but it is an issue which, apart from a few honourable exceptions like Professor Black and Ian Hamilton QC, seems to be of no moment. That is wrong.

 

Posted by Paul McConville

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52 Comments

Filed under Defamation, News Of The World, Tommy Sheridan

52 responses to “Tom Watson MP Wants An Investigation into Tommy Sheridan Prosecution – Why?

  1. ecojon

    Certainly interesting Paul. For a large number of reasons I have followed the case closely and tend to broadly agree with your conclusions.

    Tom Watson should really rest a bit on his well-earned laurels and not tilt indiscriminately at every passing windmill or he will become a bore.

    Tommy, who I once had enormous respect for, has to move on with his life and never will till he realises that he has still much to offer in many ways. He truly is talented and it’s a shocking waste to have that gift burn-out in a blind alley.

    And I should make it clear that I make no judgement on Tommy’s morals but would observe that if he had openly admitted certain aspects of his private life then he would be much further down the personal ‘rehabilitation’ road today and probably none of the court cases would have happened.

    Some may say that his he had a right to privacy in his private life and if he had been a private citizen I would agree. But he wasn’t and he did undertake moral crusades – I think of his principled and courageous anti Poll Tax work in particular.

    I agree with Paul that the original civil action success was the undoubted ‘trigger’ for the legal process which undoubtedly brought him down.

    At the time of his ‘victory’ against the News of the World I remember standing there thinking that if he had been suing the Sunday Mail he would have lost and that only the poor reputation of NoW gave him his civil verdict in the days before phone-hacking was common knowledge.

    Strange then, that a re-run of the criminal case, might also hinge on the now even poorer reputation of NoW and quite possibly on that ground alone would see him a free man.

  2. Bill C

    “It’s now absolutely certain that the judgment is unsound and if Alex Salmond had a shred of decency he would use all the power he has to ensure that this is urgently dealt with.

    As one who used to have enormous respect for Tommy Sheridan I think he should let it go. Tommy was a champion of the Scottish working class and a heroe to thousands of Scots who felt disenfranchised from the mainstream political process. However he was a victim of his own success.
    As for Tom Watson, just another Labour politician having a pop at Alex Salmond and the SNP. Mr. Watson would do better to look after his constituents rather than question the integrity of Scotland’s First Minister.

    • ecojon

      @Bill C

      Don’t forget that the irrespressible TOM also had a pop at the previous Labour Leadership which made him look a tad sad and please believe me when I say that I have no time for Blair or Brown as PM although as a man I like him and trust him and he wasn’t too bad as Chancellor.

    • ecojon

      @Bill C

      The really sad thing for me personally is that in an independent Scotland – and I should make it clear I am personally opposed to independence – Tommy would have provided I believed, the cornerstone of a Republican socialist party.

      I believe that it is almost inevitable that the SNP will splinter if they achieve their independence aim and it was at that point where Tommy’s party would have been vitally important in alliance with a hopefully more radical and revitalised Scottish Labour Party in taking power.

      I think it would have been a good alliance with some of the initial flush or republicanist socialism being tempered by the pragmatism and experience of Scottish Labour and its Trade Union links.

      But this will never be and it is hard to overestimate the blow that this might be to the future political complexion of Scotland and its way of governance.

      • Bill C

        Hi ecojon, sorry to hear you are opposed to an independent Scotland, I would be really interested in you views as I have never understood why anyone would object to self determination for their own country; yet presumably support the right of other peoples to enjoy that most fundamental human right of being able to govern themselves.
        I also can’t agree that it is inevitable that the SNP will splinter after independence. As a member for over forty years I’ve witnessed the splits, the bun fights and the handbags at dawn; I’ve also debated with the radicals, the conservatives and the downright numpties and I can honestly say I have never seen the party in better shape. There are some very capable politicians now leading the party and I confidently predict that there will be no self destruct come independence. I also cannot see how the Labour Party in Scotland can survive. It lacks quality leadership, is devoid of progressive policies and has lost its’ socialist soul.
        As to the question of “republicanist socialism”, the SNP is full of republicans and socialists (self included) and I have no doubt that an independent Scotland will be a social democratic republic.
        I would welcome your thoughts on these matters, for, as the advert says, “it’s good to talk”.

      • ecojon

        @Bill C

        I don’t actually believe that Blogs are a good medium for the kind of debate you mention. Sadly they lend themselves more to each side making a list of bullet points and never the twain shall meet.

        However let’s have a go: I have no objection to Scots democratically deciding on whether their country should be independent or not with one question on the ballot paper. So it really is typical SNP sophistry to claim that I am opposed to Scots determining the type of country they wish to live in just because I am exercising my democratic right to vote against Independence. As a democrat I will accept the will of the Scottish people on this matter although it may be that I decide to move elsewhere – that would be determined by what kind of country that the new Scotland becomes.

        My choice for a whole host of reasons is to vote NO to independence and to continue our union with the rest of the UK. Politically I am a republican but, like the SNP, believe that there is a role for the Monarchy in an independent Scotland although this would be a slimmed-down modern monarchy once The Queen shuffles off. The pomp & circumstance really are important in tourist dollars and in lots of other intangible ways.

        The splintering of the SNP I believe is inevitable and not necessarily on political grounds but quite probably on naked personal ambition as the Old Guard is shouldered aside by the thrusting Young Turks. It is the way of the world and more particulalrly of politics.

        If it doesn’t splinter and forms the government we risk Irish-style politics. But perhaps not as a post-independent SNP might not be able to satisfy the economic hunger of the masses once their fairly dubious quest for the freedom of independence is quenched.

        But these are all questions that will be answered if we vote for independence.

        I have certainly seen many of your ‘young blood’ and I can’t help but wonder how many carpet-baggers are hidden amongst them. Indeed I am reminded of Tommy Sheridan’s fight for Provan Constituency when he was, I think, locked up in Saughton for Poll Tax demos.

        It was interesting to note that Provan where Easterhouse is now used to be a Tory seat and where I as a child leafletted for the Labour Party. The count had all these people wi their erse hinging oot their troosers and torn cardigans and then these creatures from outer space with suits, hats, collars & ties and briefcases and private cars – They were the TORIES and the first time I had actually seen one in the flesh.

        As the scheme built-up it became Labour and then along came Tommy. It was amazing because his supporters were like those original schemies – god bless them – and the suited flash mob weren’t the Tories but New Labour. In time they will have morphed into the SNP.

        That is not an attack on the SNP but an observation on the creeping inevitability of politics when there is no real oversight let alone control of politicians and civil servants and the largesse they have at their disposal.

        To me the question is not how long the Labour Party can survive but more of the question: How long will actual socialists survive in an SNP government in an independent Scotland. That will be the test – there is no doubt that power can not only corrupt but take the power of pragamatism to the stratosphere. I watched some politicians, who later became prominent in the SNP, back in 1975/77 when they were members of the Scottish Labour Party (not the Labour Party in Scotland) and I would recommend ‘Breakaway’ by Henry Drucker as an intersting insight into their philosopy and politics.

        And, just to prove that there is nothing new under the sun in Politics, it has a very pertinent section on Nato membership which I think you would find interesting.

        However, I think I probably have reached the boring stage. I have formed my NO to independence decision based on a lifetime of rich and varied experiences in life, work, trade unionism and politics both at home and abroad where I have lived and worked in a variety of countries – ranging from dictatorships to various shades of democracy.

        However, others will have their own experiences and no doubt a contrary opinion. All I hope is that everyone casting a vote will do so after deep thought and soul-searching and mot allow themself to be carried along purely by emotion wrapped in the flag of nationalism.

        Ah one last word – I would have had more hope for a social democratic republic if Tommy hadn’t fallen from grace as I think he just might have been able to unite the many and varied strands of republicanism at large – some of which is akin to holding a tiger by the tail for any Scottish government based solely or reliant on their vote.

  3. Joseph

    Tommy Sheridan is his own worst enemy. I don’t know what his end game is but he seems to be going about things all the wrong way. Fact: he was found guilty of lying to the court, and if you want to go down that road and get caught then you have to pay the penalty. He has done that, but if he thinks he can come storming back without having learned his lesson – and that is you don’t lie in court – then he’s got another think coming? As for Mr Watson he is way off the mark. They are trying everything to find a technical fault so that Tommy can get a few bob out of all this. We should not reward liars. The sad thing about this case was, in my opinion, that the Sheridan family would have done, or said, anything to get their boy off. Very sad and pathetic. The law is the law and the minute you give two fingers to it then we’re on a slippery slope.

    • ecojon

      @Joseph

      To be fair most families would do the same – doesn’t make it morally correct or legally right but just life.

      As to the money yes well there is that aspect which I am sure looms large because even if legal staff are dismissed there is often a large bill which remains to be paid especially for the pre-trial work which can eat up a helluva lot of time and ergo cash.

      • Joseph

        I wouldn’t agree with you ecojon. Most families would not do the same. And it’s not just life as you put it. If we take that attitude then we may as well give up. Wrong is wrong no matter what. Would you knowingly lie for your brother in the same situation? Surely not. Tommy’s family were all guilty, and that makes me sad. The money side of it is his problem. If he hadn’t lied he would wouldn’t be in this predicament.

      • ecojon

        @Joseph

        I think you should re-read what I wrote – I actually stated it was legally and morally wrong and the comment ‘that’s life’ applies to those families who would lie.

        As to my brother – well firstly if he did something wrong I know he would own-up from the start and secondly he wouldn’t ask me to lie for him and just for the avoidance of doubt the reason he wouldn’t ask, even in desperate extremis, is because of the way he was raised. In any case he would know my answer in advance.

        Joseph you declare: ‘Tommy’s family were all guilty’. Strange I don’t actually remember them being found guilty of anything. I could be wrong and am happy to be corrected. However, situations like this are seldom in stark Black & White perspective. Members of a family can be lied to, not told the whole truth, make assumptions, and before they know it they are in the middle of a web of deceit. Not one woven, as can happen, when people rehearse evidence prior to a court appearance although this appears to have been acceptable to Government Ministers who did exactly that before appearing befeore Leveson. When you actually try to divine whether someone has lied in court the matter is often unclear on close examination of the questions and answers – but that is another matter.

        As to the money you have also not grasped my point and I apologise if I was unclear – I was referring to legal staff being left out of pocket not Tommy!

  4. Personally i don’t see his conviction as sound but at the same time i do not see any justice being achieved due to the now irreputable reputation of the NOTW and others involved within that particular company.

    We now have a stage where, as much as i am sure Tommy does have his vices in life, he will forever be held amongst his fans as some form of martyr since the revelations surrounding the news international group and in particular NOTW have come to light.

    The thought of dragging such a high profile case through the courts again will only ever lead to much dishonesty being swept under the carpet as it would be impossible for anyone, and in particular rival newsgroups, to remain both un-biast and neutral. Indeed, it is remarkably easy to denounce a verdict as ‘unsound’ now that the crown witness has been deemed to be wholly unreliable in another high profile investigation. It does not particularly mean that they perjured themselves at every turn in life (although i accept that it is also a large possibility). Here we have an MP, in some way – attempting to influence the Judiciary (in my opinion) to help his own crusade (rightly or wrongly) against News International. (not to denounce the work he has done – believe me i am no fan of the corp.)

    For me, some things are better left unturned. I can appreciate that Tommy himself may wish to have a conviction in some way diminished – however, i think that it may prove to be a more powerful tool in his life if left as is. That is only my own opinion though.

    • “I can appreciate that Tommy himself may wish to have a conviction in some way diminished – however, i think that it may prove to be a more powerful tool in his life if left as is. That is only my own opinion though.”

      Sorry, what i meant to add to that is that as much as Tommy may wish to use this publicity to in some way diminish his conviction it must also be remembered that Tommy Sheridan did himself no favours in pursuing the group through the courts by asking others to lie to strengthen his case.

      It must be remembered that, although up against a major and vile company – the man was not whiter than white himself.

  5. Tam Makondi

    Joseph – When you consider the ongoing, farcical r”ngers situation with every rule in the book being bent to suit them, I would suggest that the people who are giving the two fingers to the law at the moment are the lawmakers themselves but they don’t seem to be on a slippery slope. Maybe they should be lying in Sheridan’s vacated cell.

  6. Frank Galvin

    It would not surprise if, in future years, we were to learn that MI5 were involved. The greatest beneficiaries of Tommy’s fall from grace is unionism and right wing ideologists.

    • ecojon

      @Frank Galvin

      And the biggest casualty was Truth and if it had been followed there would have been no benefit for those you mention.

      I often laugh at the amount of surveilance activity some feel that is undertaken by that small band of courageous souls at MI5 who actually have important things to do like protecting Britain and its people from real and dangerous threats.

      I was told from an impeccable source some years ago that Tommy’s sauna story was first offered to a London-based Sunday and the reaction from the newsdesk was: ‘Tommy who?’

      The NoW was very much second choice and that is a fact – it might even be further down the pecking order but I can’t actually speak to that. We should always be careful in Scotland of over-thinking our importance in the UK let alone the world.

      Tommy was important to Scotland and I am the first to acknowledge that but he blew it and the ordinary punters know it and they feel cheated because they believed that in Tommy they had found a politician who could be trusted and told the truth. For the record I also believed.

      • Frank Galvin

        There are some who would say that preventing Scottish independence is, almost by definition, protecting ‘Britain’ from threats.

        You seem to agree that an independent Scotland would be far further to the left than Westminster. Would conservatives – those who wish to preserve the status quo – not see a socialist neighbour as a threat? Would they not see a strategic threat in losing a huge chunk of land mass and the significant change from being an island to being a peninsula and losing 10% of it’s populace? That’s putting aside all the obvious economic threats.

        Tommy lied. I am not disputing that and actually, I believe that he may well be a psychopath (he has many of the characteristics). But there are shadowy figures in Britain who must have rejoiced at the expose of his weaknesses and I would not be surprised if they played a part.

        It is well known that the intelligence services infiltrate organisations that are perceived as a threat to the status quo. I am quite certain that your impeccable source is a Londoncentric journalist and not someone involved in ‘protecting Britain’.

    • Bill C

      Frank, as someone who has had experience of the Brit. dirty tricks brigade, I think you might be nearer the mark than you think!

      • Frank Galvin

        Thanks Bill.

        Whilst it’s not healthy to be paranoid and see conspiracies all around ourselves neither is it healthy to have an unquestioning loyalty and respect for officialdom and a misguided belief that everything we are told must be true because the powers that be tell us it is so.

        My suspicions of the secret state go back to when aged 14 I marched in support of the striking miners (my Dad was one of them). I recall police officers photographing me as I marched towards George Square with my Dad and Granda. I remember being quite amazed at why they should do this at what was a perfectly peaceful march.

        But really my belief that things were not all I was being lead to think was true was when the French intelligence services bombed the Greenpeace ship ‘Rainbow Warrior’. Since then I have always thought that if such an act can be ordered from the French (a socialist republic….or it was then anyway), such acts of state sponsored terror could certainly be ordered from the UK.

      • ecojon

        @Frank Galvin

        You state: ‘neither is it healthy to have an unquestioning loyalty and respect for officialdom and a misguided belief that everything we are told must be true because the powers that be tell us it is so’.

        I totally agree with this and am a subscriber to the: ‘Just because you’re paranoind doesn’t mean to say the buggers aren’t watching you.’

        I have been arrested, interviewed, and questioned all to do with my political and campaigning activities. I’ve had my house and car searched on various occasions and openly followed in an attempt to disrupy my activities. Do I hold anything against the State – not in the slightest because if I had been them I would have wanted to know what I was up to. A lot of activists get a buzz from believing that they are under surveillance – whether they are or not. But it is a numbers game and most ain’t. In any case the main thrust of surveillance has been moving away from previous targets as the actual and perceived threats change.

        I too was heavily involved in the last miner’s fight on picket lines against scab Y&D lorry drivers but also in raising cash to feed the families of those on strike.

        As to police picture taking – it was done partly as a ‘control’ measure with the belief that people who had had their pic taken were less likely to become involved in public disorder especially violent incidents. Makes me feel old when I type that and I look at the new internet age and the medium it provides where cops can get most of the incriminating pics from those posted by perpetrators :)

        Back in the day I’m not too sure how much film was in the cop cameras because the bulk of their crowd pics in the early days were supplied from the darkrooms of friendly newspapers – just how official this was or on a scratch each others back basis I don’t know.

        Then came the video camera age and anyone could get a decent pic and it was cheaper than film.

        you stated: ‘It is well known that the intelligence services infiltrate organisations”. It is also well-known to the intelligence services that many dangerous people infiltrate innocent organisation which unwittingly provide ‘cover’.

        The vast majority of footage shot of innocent organisations is an attempt to identify the people I mention and yes to check and see whether it appears they are ‘turning’ any members of the organisation. Usually, in this time of scarce resources, there is some kind of intelligence-led input which sparks the interest. Often it is wrong or mistaken but the security services don’t have the luxury of making bad calls with no consequences – the life of the public could be at stake and that means me and YOU!

  7. i think everybody will have a twist in their opinion skewed towards TS for taking on the Murdoch organisation and perhaps rightly so. They are a reprehensible bunch who believe that they can change or control the democratic outcome and who have demonstrated utter contempt for the rule of law in this country. Murdoch, Brooks et al should be looking at jail sentences for their deliberate concealment of the workings within that organisation and further should have any involvement in media in this country terminated forthwith. Perhaps then we would get back to objective journalism focused on identifying the relevant facts of any subject being reported without bias towards any political party.
    But then we would also need to deal with the toadies at the BBC who have also slipped into following party political lines and trying to influence peoples democratic choice.
    That is for political parties to do and not for journalists especially not those effectively paid for by the state.
    Having said that as everyone has noted TS was the cause of his own downfall by lying and asking friends to lie for him. He single handedly split asunder the party he built up and destroyed the hopes of his followers in pursuit of denying the truth.
    The verdict in the civil case was somewhat of a shock and in some ways and whilst it is understandable that people gave him the benefit of the doubt at that time there was clearly a case to be answered in terms of the truthfulness of both TS and his wife. It brought a whole new meaning to the words of the Tammy Wynette song.
    I suppose we have to believe his wife did not know about his extra marital activities ( at that time ) and it is amazing she continues to be in denial regarding these but as they say love is a many splendour thing.
    Whether the verdict(s) were unsound or not – that is the verdict in the civil case and the subsequent prosecution of TS for perjury – we have to accept that these may have been slanted by deliberate deceptions by both parties in court.
    For the sake of justice and the public purse let us hope that the wiser council who will consider this will kick it out and let us be done with.
    If that happens TS can bask in his status of martyrship and denial and just perhaps get on with his life.

    • ecojon

      @Clarkeng

      If you had mentioned the political toadies at the DT & DM then I might have taken your piece a tad more seriously.

      • Dont know why the presence of toadies elsewhere needs to be expanded on to lessen the point – which is that journalists should stick to objective reporting without political bias and that those employed at the BBC in particular should be absolutely neutral rather than trying to pander to whichever trendy quirk in politics. I for one like to think for myself.
        I take it you mean the Telegraph and the Mirror by DT and DM and yes obviously the same principal applies.
        If you like you can stretch this to include the Civil Service, Metropolitan Police and any other organisation which is meant to serve the public and not to carry political messages or impose political will which is at odds with the law of the land or the wishes of the electorate.
        Our politicians already pass more laws against the will of the electorate after so called consultation than is healthy in a democracy anthey are aided by the toadies in “selling the benefits” to us.

      • @ecojon

        Apologies for the opening para previously.

        Should have read ” or lessens the point”.
        One should not type and eat at the same time!
        I only now have to worry about my Pinot Noir!
        It has been suggested to me that for DM you meant the Daily Mail and not the Mirror.
        A toadie is a toadie however I do think it is important to recognise that people who work in assets of the state and who receive their remuneration from the public purse via whatever tax you care to name and who pursue political aims from these positions are more odious to most of us.
        And that goes for left or right.
        Politicians seem to think that once elected we have given them a mandate to make whatever laws they see fit without fear of criticism.
        It is high time we got back to a situation where said politicians acted upon the manifestos they were voted in on and had the courage to come back to the country on decisions outwith this scope.
        That would be seen as acting in our best interests instead of telling us what their version of our best interests are.

      • ecojon

        @Clarkeng

        Actually DM=Daily Mail

    • ecojon

      @Frank Galvin

      You state I: ‘Seem to agree that an independent Scotland would be far further to the left than Westminster.’

      I have re-read my comments and must be missing something but if I have given the impresson stated by you then it wasn’t intended. I have no idea what the composition of a possibly future Scottish Government would be. We haven’t even got as far as deciding the referendum question yet. I would also hope that if independence came to pass then as was designed for devolution that coalition government would tend to be the norm.

      You also state that: ‘Would conservatives – those who wish to preserve the status quo – not see a socialist neighbour as a threat?’

      When last I looked the Scottish Labour Party, Scottish LibDems, and Scottish Conservative Party as well as their English & Welsh counterparts were campaigning to keep Scotland in the Union whilst recognising the democratic right of the Scottish people to choose Independence. I have never heard anyone advance the argument that a Socialist Scotland would pose any kind of threat to England, Wales, Northern Ireland or the Irish Republic. Although I accept that it is the kind of rant that could come from ultra-left groups who might see Scotland as their Valhalla. Personally I think Scots are far too hard-headed to fall for anything like that and that includes republicans.

      As to defence arguments there is an arguments that a reduced coastline would be a benefit although personally I would reject that as being a very out-dated scenario. The real dangers I see are biological/dirty weapons, possibly missile attack, and E-commerce internet attack and these don’t change whether we are classed as an island or a peninsula. My view will be further strengthened when the SNP grows up a little and shortly adopts Nato membership as party policy.

      This step will then impact on the future of Faslane as the base for the submarine-borne nuclear deterrent in an independent Scotland. I confidently expect that the SNP will change-step on this matter as well and use the economic argument but fudge the nuclear one – but who knows? At the end of the day Faslane & Coulport can be resited and I suspect would be warmly received in England, Wales or NI, in view of the employment and economic boost it would bring to an area. It’s similar to Cumbria wanting to handle the projected nuclear waste storage facility.

      As to the shadowy forces you see as being behind Tommy’s downfall I don’t think they were for the simple reason they didn’t need to be – he did it all to himself and as to them being pleased I don’t think they would care as it would just have been a target for them. On the other hand some politicians may well have been pleased and first and foremost they would have been Tommy’s erstwhile Republican colleagues on the left of mainstream socialism.

      As to the infiltration of groups by the secret service – is there anything whatsoever wrong with that if there is a possibility that a group or individual within it was up to no good with regard to the public at large. I have no problem with that as I tend to think that the Civil Liberties of the majority actually do trump the Civil Liberty on the individual or minority in certain circumstances.

      You have no clue who my source is and I thought it was in all our interests to protect society whether in Scotland or the wider UK.

      • Frank Galvin

        Try re-reading your post again then, because it’s quite clear that you believed that a post independent Scotland would swing towards republicanism and socialism. That Tommy is unlikely to play any part in that is irrelevant because the Scottish electorate have a natural affection for both isms. The SNP are already far further to the left than Westminster (sadly, including Blairite/Brownite Labour) and Millbank has dictated that “Scottish” Labour must also drift from republicanism and socialism in favour of neo-con right wing policies that attract the votes of middle England.

        In a nutshell: the electorate in Scotland and most of England have drastically different core values. It’s the reason why Labour in Scotland have faced three electoral disasters in-a-row. However in a post independent Scotland I believe you would see ‘Scottish’ Labour return to those core values that they secretly believe in but dare not express it for fear of upsetting someone in party HQ.

        Also, when I wrote the word ‘conservative’ (with a hyphenated explanation) I meant it literally with a small ‘c’. You confused yourself into thinking I meant the Conservatives – the party (with a big C).

        If you really honestly believe that Scotland will be given a free hand to decide constitutional issues without the black arts from London influencing matters then you’re living in la-la land and are blissfully unaware of the states hard and soft methods of soft control.

        Finally, I did not make any assertion that shadowy figures within the intelligence community had anything to do with Tommy’s downfall. I did say that I would not be surprised to learn in future that they were. You seem to be okay with MI5 infiltrating groups. Well if we are talking of terrorist groups then that’s fine, but it’s not if it’s a mainstream political party with a democratic mandate.

        I’ll take a wild guess and suggest you support the Labour Party. If so you may be interested in looking up the role of MI5 in the 1970′s when they spied on Labour cabinet ministers when the men in grey suits didn’t fancy the democratically elected Harold Wilson government. Still okay with that?

      • ecojon

        @Frank Galvin

        I think that most informed people would expect an independent Scotland to swing towards republicanism and socialism. I would think that only the Tories would be implacably opposed to this among the Scottish electorate.

        Even the (Scottish) LibDems is a slightly different creature from its southern equivalent. The Scottish Liberals really have a long and distinguished history of radicalism so in an independent Scotland wouldn’t automatically form an alliance with the Tories IMHO. But I have to say in the last couple of years a lot of what the LibDems have done has amazed me as it has their party members.

        As to the SNP eventual position I personally don’t think that can become clear until and if Scotland votes for Independence. I would also take issue that the core values of Scots and those south of the border are that far apart and I think when discussing core values it is important not to confuse these with political voting preference.

        I also do not accept that recent electoral reversals for Labour in Scotland has anything to do with a move away from core values and I would take nothing away from the SNP’s much more sure-footed campaigning and actually playing up the positives of Scotland rather than the doom and gloom of what lay ahead. In many ways it mirrors the electoral trap the Tories are caught in re the economy.

        The Scottish electorate are as sophisticated as any in the UK and are quite capable of firing a volley across the bows of the UK Ship of State to gain extra resources for a devolved economy in times of world wide stress. It doesn’t mean they will actually vote YES in an independence referendum and indeed polls continue to show they will vote NO.

        The main problem all party’s have had is actually nailing down the politically slippery as an eel Bold Alec – I think they are actually getting there but he’s still a long way in front. But again he’s respected by voters as a doughty Scot fighting their corner – too bad for Alec that their corner is ‘devolution’ and not ‘independence’.

        It is also for outsiders to believe that Labour voters in Scotland are further to the left than their English counterparts. I don’t know when this was the case but from the mid 60s when I became politically active I have always found the labour Party and most of its activists to be extremely reactionary. There are lots of reasons for this not least the influence of the Catholic Church and I fully realise the justified historical circumstances behind the church stance. I would certainly like to see a core Scottish value become a freedom from religious bigotry and sectarianism whether we become independent or not.

        They also possibly focussed on wages and conditions rather than the theory although personally I have always felt that John Maclean’s role as a teacher was sadly neglected.

        I had found even before my serious involvement with the Labour Party that activists south of the border were much more thinking and theoretical than in Scotland – I was meeting them in the context of my Anti-Polaris marching and campaigning from 1959/60 onwards.

        As to politicians who are frightened to express their true beliefs – the word for them is ‘carpetbagger’ and they are usually found-out in time and receive their justified scorn and they exist in every party.

        As to C/conservative – if you had then gone on to use radical instead of socialist your non-political useage might possibly have been more apparent.

        As I have said elsewhere – very dangerous people often infiltrate perfectly innocent groups as ‘cover’ for their own nefarious activities and this is often what draws surveillance attention. Often the trigger is intelligence-lead and this can be mistaken relying as it often does on human involvement and judgement – however when a mistake is made by the security services then the public often pays the price.

        I was heavily involved in the politics of the 70s – it was accepted as read that a lot of politicians and trade union leadership were of interest to the security services. I don’t need to read history books – I lived through it.

        And you don’t need a wild guess – I have openly declared my LP membership over most of my lifetime although I did resign when Tony Bhoy was made leader because I don’t regard him as a socialist. However, I think that is a nice point to cease the diversion as, of course, Tom has his own linkage to Tony :)

    • Ernesider

      Tammy song took a few minutes. So I take we are all c/w fans in the prime of life?

  8. mick

    Tommy and Gail have a lot to over politics still ,every1 makes mistakes and deserves a other chance hes 3 dimentional ,and his wife is just pure class am there biggest fan a would love both of them to do a talk show so we could get to know them better ,”A JUST ALWAYS THINK OF HIS STANCE IN THE POLL TAX AND CND “look at the positives and not the negatives Gail to me is the perfect wife and has come out with a higher profile than tommy due to standing by him in the sex scandal and sticking to her marriage vows it would have been so easy for her to throw the towel in but she dident and saved her marriage ,to me this makes Gial the strongest of the 2 .Gail if you read this your glasgow top drawer darling good luck to you and tommy in the future glasgow will always love you both :-)

    • Mick

      Can see your point and understand the bright side of life outlook. Especially in situations like this where it is easy to become cynical as a result of the actions of a person who was trusted by so many your outlook is laudable.
      However a discredited politician is just that and the people who vote socialist deserve and are entitled to be better served.
      His wife is obviously a lovely person but so far in her attempts to become elected has failed miserably and I cant help but feel people dont like a women who has been so publicly humiliated in standing by her man.
      They question her standards if not her backbone.
      I dont think either of them have anything left to offer politics as they stand – things have moved on – and the best thing for all would be they live quietly and hopefully happily ever after.
      We have enough dodgy politicians at the moment and should be hoping for people with integrity to come forward.

  9. mick

    heres a video of Gail (PURE CLASS)

  10. Marching on Together

    This is nothing to do with that lying toad Sheridan. This is payback by the Labour left for the Wapping dispute, and the hatred that goes with it.

    As for Sheridan, he has been wrong about everything else in life, so why should he be right about this?

  11. ecojon

    @Marching on Together

    Sorry I don’t know what you mean by: ‘This is payback by the Labour left for the Wapping dispute, and the hatred that goes with it’.

    • Marching on Together

      The Labour left have always hated News International titles, every since the Wapping industrial dispute of 1986, which broke the power of the trade unions in the newspaper industry. Local authorities and other organisations controlled by Labour up and down the land banned the News International titles form their premises for a generation. During Blair’s period in power, they swallowed the necessity of cosying up to News International, but a large chunk of the Labour left have been biding their time, waiting for revenge. As a former chair of NOLS, this is Watson’s agenda.

      • ecojon

        @Marching on Together

        Oh dear I suppose I’d better declare an interest in that I was in attandance on the picket both at Wapping and Kinning park.

        If truth be told the 1986 was very similar to the Miner’s Strike as everyone knew that an era was passing and that goes for the workers watching their industry die – indeed none more so than them.

        In fact, the power of the print unions had been broken by Eddie Shah with Today and everyone within the industry south of the border was aware of that.

        “He confronted the trade unions at his Warrington print works and Manchester news offices in 1983. As the owner of six local newspapers, he defeated the print unions after national strikes that went on for seven months – despite receiving death threats. He was the first person to invoke Margaret Thatcher’s anti-union laws to force the unions to the bargaining table. The Wapping dispute followed three years later.”

        North of the Border was interesting as the Scottish print and media unions had long before accepted the inevitability of the new technology and had slowly been accepting it without any major lablour problems as far as I can remember. It is also worth remembering that Wapping was more to do with de-skilling and manning levels and a management hatred of trade unions than new technology introduction which is often missed with the myopia which descends with the passage of time.

        I think any hatred of the NI Group is more centred on the SUN for its recent switch of political allegiance than an industrial fight from almost 30 years ago which, as I say, was doomed to failure and the vast majority of those fighting it were well aware of that.

        But like La Passionara they believed: “Better to die on your feet than live forever on your knees”.

  12. Boss Hogg

    I believe that Mr Watson is engaged in a political exercise to rewrite the evidence and verdict of the Sheridan perjury trial using guile, misinformation, sentiment, carefully edited transcript excerpts, bombast, coercion and other standard devices from his toolkit. He may well succeed.

    Politicians do this sort of voluntary work. Not as an addition to their role in the management of the country, but instead of it. We finance them and their antics.

    As I understand from Paul’s thorough and trained analysis, the fact that some witnesses may have lied in court does not in itself demonstrate that Mr Sheridan did not lie about other matters.

  13. Greg72

    First, my ‘position’ – i’m a Unionist and a Conservative (still – just!) Secondly, Sheridan’s politics aside (on which I am not all keen!), the thoughts that come to mind as regards him are: a) arrogance (as in, ‘I’m above the law – that’s for ‘little people’), b) ‘feet of clay’ ,and c) hypocrisy. The ‘attributes’ I’ve just mentioned are not confined to politicians, but we also see in others – for example – certain bankers!

    I also tend to think that Tom Watson is ‘paddling in strange waters’, as in he really doesn’t seem to know that much about Scots Law.

    Finally, I don’t think that the question of ‘independence’/’separation’ is really relevant to this discussion.

    • Bill C

      Greg, sorry to disagree, however we are talking about an ex-MSP who supports Scottish independence and might yet make a significant contribution to the Referendum debate. Like it or not the right of the Scottish people to choose self determination in 2014 is right at the top of the agenda in Scotland. My mantra is “The person who ignores politics today, may live to regret it tomorrow”. Vote YES 2014.

      • Greg72

        Was it not Voltaire who said something along the lines of ‘I disagree with everything you say, but I would defend to my last breath your right to say it’? On the other hand, it may have been Disraeli, but you know what I mean!

        I’m afraid, however, that I’m unable to give any credence to S’s views!

        • Marching on Together

          Voltaire. However Sheridan would deny you, as a Conservative & Unionist, your right to speech that he disagrees with.

      • ecojon

        Rather than Voltaire I would favour Aristotle:

        “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”

      • ecojon

        @Bill C

        I wonder if Tommy is stupid enough or arrogant enough to actually think he has any role to play. Perhaps what the Watson intervention is all about – laying down a smokescreen that could possibly last till the referendum.

        Either way I think Tommy has lost the support of the ordinary punters and he could actually damage the pro-independence camp. Ooops maybe I should be supporting him and Watson :)

  14. John Burns

    I attended the same Lourdes School as Sheridan – he always was, is, and forever will be, a liar (proven), a self-centred egotist and a self-styled “working-class hero” who has never done a working-class job in his ‘puff’.

    He’s a wrong ‘un; as much a stranger to the truth as the News of the World, and is reviled by 99.999% of the people of Scotland.

  15. ecojon

    @John Burns

    The personal take is often interesting but one thing I would say is that by describing him as: ‘a liar (proven), a self-centred egotist and a self-styled “working-class hero” who has never done a working-class job in his ‘puff’ then surely you are listing the qualities of a future Prime Minister for any political party.

  16. ian lewis

    The minute a politician wants to move from making laws to interfering in the execution of the law alarm bells should ring.

  17. Bill C

    Thanks for getting back to me ecojon. I take your point that a forum such as this is not the place for a discussion on the constitution, however I think Scottish politics is badly in need of some sort of blog/forum/site whatever, where those of interested in where our country is going (or staying!) can debate the issues. You raised a few topics which I would like to chew over with you but you are right, here is not the place. Sometime soon perhaps at another venue? All the best.

  18. ecojon

    @Bill C

    No matter the result of any referendum it behoves all men and women of good intent and a belief in Democracy to work together to make the best out of the small land we inhabit and to make it a better place for those who come after.

    Sadly, I am not sure the site you envisage could work as it would be an obvious target for a ‘cyber battle’ and debate would be lost in the noise :(

  19. couple of key points here –

    even the alleged minute of the meeting where Sheridans oppoents say he confessed, dont record him asking colleagues to lie. Rather, the minute suggests the opposite, that they refer the matter to him and dont comment or get involed. The accusation that he asked people to lie lay in the charge of subornation, alleged by his former ally Colin Fox. That charge was thrown out of court and, in fact, should never have reached court as there was absolutely no corroboration of this allegation. Indeed, the diaries of both Sheridans recorded them being elsewhere and documentary evidence that was provided to the court confirmed that. Two questions arise from this incident alone – 1. Why didnt police inestigate Fox’s claims and find out that it couldnt be true (took the defence team minutes to find that evidence) and why did the Crown proceed to court with a charge that wasnt corroborated by other evidence? The fact that so many here, the author and commenters, have now chosen to believe this allegation, even though Sheridan was not found gulty of the charge, may provide part of the answer.

    The second pioint is yet another piece of mythology that as become “fact” through repitition. The author thinks that the perjury investigation came from a referral from the Judge in the libel proof. Quite smply, that just isnt true. The police launched their perjury investigation after two complaints, one from Barbara Scott, the SSP minute secretary, one from former tory MSP Brian Monteith. The Crown investigation was launched in the days following the publication of the McNeilage tape some months later. It’s true the judge did speak of potential perjury and that was quoted often, but that isnt rare and doesnt normally lead to a crown investigation.

    Perhaps we should wait to see what comes out of Rubicon and what reasons Tom watson has for believing this. Don’t forget that Watson’s calls come from his discovery that evience was withheld – missing emails between NoW, witnesses and police – that could have had a dramatic effect on the trial, or not. What we can’t do is rule out anything until we have the facts, speculating on what Watson, or Strathclyde Police have found out, will only ever be speculation.

    • As you say it maybe something and it maybe nothing. It may or may not have had an impact on the trial. Whatever! This case and the case between TS and the NotW made a mockery of the system of justice as both parties engaged in lies and obfuscation quite deliberately. TS should not have lied and the NotW should not have lied. But they did and it is we the taxpayer who are picking up the tab.
      If TS had fought the initial case on the basis of honesty perhaps people would be more sympathetic to these squeals of outrage however there is a sense here that, despite their best efforts to avoid the inevitable, justice has been visited on both parties.

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