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Last Updated: Friday, 4 August 2006, 21:44 GMT 22:44 UK
Sheridan victory in court battle
Tommy Sheridan
The jury decided by a majority verdict in favour of Mr Sheridan

Tommy Sheridan has won his defamation case against the News of the World.

A jury of six men and five women took three hours to dismiss the tabloid's claims the Socialist MSP was a serial adulterer and swinger who used drugs.

Mr Sheridan, 42, who represented himself, said the victory was the equivalent of Gretna FC beating Real Madrid on penalties.

The Sunday tabloid was ordered to pay Mr Sheridan 200,000 damages. It says it plans to appeal against the verdict.

Mr Sheridan won his case on a majority verdict of seven to four.

He is now plotting to retake control of the Scottish Socialist Party less than two years after he resigned as leader.

BBC Scotland understands he intends to stand for election as leader at the party conference in October.

Speaking outside the Court of Session after the verdict was delivered on Friday, the Glasgow MSP delivered an emotional and political speech.

We now have to turn our attentions to the difficult task of taking the SSP forward and healing the wounds opened up by the case
Colin Fox
SSP leader

He said: "We have over the last five weeks taken on one of the biggest organisations on the planet with the biggest amount of resources to pay for the most expensive legal teams to throw nothing but muck against me, my wife and my family.

"Today's verdict proves working class people can differentiate the truth from the muck.

"The working class people on the jury have done a service to the people of Scotland and delivered a message to the standard of journalism the News of the World represents.

"They are liars and they have proved they are liars."

He said he could not have conducted the case without the "loyalty and support" of his family and "thousands of working class people".

'Prayers answered'

He said he was looking forward to spending some quality time with his 14-month-old daughter Gabrielle.

The verdict was initially met with a stunned silence in the courtroom before relatives of Mr Sheridan wept.

Bob Bird
Bob Bird of the News of the World was astonished

His wife Gail hugged her husband for almost a minute in the court after the verdict was delivered.

The MSP's mother Alice said afterwards: "Our prayers have been answered."

Speaking outside the court Bob Bird, editor in Scotland of the News of the World, said he was "absolutely astonished" at the outcome.

He added: "This result suggests that 18 independent witnesses came to this court and committed monstrous acts of perjury.

"We simply cannot accept that is what happened.

"On that basis, we will be lodging an appeal against this verdict.

"And the basis for that appeal is that today's verdict was perverse."

'Healing wounds'

Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) leader Colin Fox said Mr Sheridan had admitted visiting a sex club.

After the verdict Mr Fox said: "Tommy Sheridan's victory in his action against the News of the World is an extraordinary achievement against heavy odds.

"Every socialist will rejoice in the jury's rejection of the News of the World's journalism which this verdict represents."

He added: "We now have to turn our attentions to the difficult task of taking the SSP forward and healing the wounds opened up by the case."

Before the jury retired to consider its verdict, Lord Turnbull said the conflicting evidence given to the court may have meant some people had been perjuring themselves - an offence which could lead to a prison sentence.

Clear names

A Crown Office spokesman said it would be considering the judge's statements, but that it was too early to speculate on whether a criminal investigation would follow.

Lothian and Borders Police said it had not received any complaint about witnesses in the case.

Socialist MSP Carolyn Leckie said she would welcome an inquiry so she and her colleagues could clear their names.

She issued a statement with fellow MSPs Frances Curran and Rosie Kane saying that there was no "plot" against Mr Sheridan and stressing that they stood by the evidence they gave to the jury.

They said party minutes showed Mr Sheridan had admitted visiting a sex club.

Other party members denied the existence of such a minute.

The Socialist Worker platform within the SSP has called for those party members who gave evidence for the News of the World to "do the honourable thing" and resign from the SSP.

Watch a half-hour special programme, Sex, Lies and Socialism, on BBC One Scotland, at 2235 on Monday 7 August. The programme will be available live and on demand online.

Tommy Sheridan's speech after he won the case

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