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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 November 2004, 22:05 GMT
Left-wingers deny Sheridan coup
The SSP parliamentary group
Mr Sheridan's five colleagues have denied a revolt
MSPs from the Scottish Socialist Party have denied they ganged up to force the resignation of leader Tommy Sheridan.

He quit as party convenor, but remains a member of the Edinburgh parliament.

MSP Colin Fox said that the decision to accept his resignation was unanimous - and rejected suggestions of a "coup d'etat" within the party.

Mr Sheridan, who said he resigned to be a "good father", plans to take legal action over a newspaper story which alleged he had had an affair.

The 40-year-old denied the claims, dismissing the gossip as "crap".

'Glorious chapter'

The party's ruling body voted unanimously for him to stand down last week.

National co-ordinator Alan McCombes said Mr Sheridan's decision was a set back and the end of a "glorious chapter".

He also insisted that suggestions of in-fighting and "a back-stabbing cabal" of people jockeying for position were untrue.

The standing down of Tommy does represent a setback for the SSP
Alan McCombes
Scottish Socialist Party
Speaking to BBC Radio Scotland's Newsdrive programme, Mr Fox also dismissed such claims.

He said: "I would like to take this opportunity to nail the story, the idea that somehow there was a coup d'etat took place by other people on the executive.

"It was a unanimous decision, including Tommy, to accept his resignation for very many factors, most of which we have seen in the last week or so."

The MSPs have declined to give the party's backing to Mr Sheridan's legal challenge, saying his personal life was a matter for him alone.

The SSP plans to operate "collective rule" until a long-term leadership solution is agreed.

Lead the party

It is one of three longer term options, which include a leadership team of two, like the Green Party has - or simply electing a new boss.

The proposals will be debated at the SSP's national council next month.

In the short-term, Mr Sheridan will not be replaced as SSP chief. Instead, MSPs will take it in turns to lead the party in what critics have dubbed a Monty Python-style solution.

Tommy Sheridan
Tommy Sheridan has vowed to clear his name after press allegations
His colleagues stressed their firebrand former leader had been a "fantastic mouthpiece", but argued criticism of the SSP as a one-man party is - and always was - a myth.

Mr McCombes said the SSP would continue to be a powerful force in Scottish politics and that Socialist policies would ensure it went from strength to strength.

He said: "The standing down of Tommy does represent a setback for the SSP.

"It is the closing of a chapter in the history of the SSP but that chapter has been a glorious chapter where we have taken politics by storm."

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