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Last Updated: Sunday, 16 December 2007, 22:00 GMT
Sheridan charged in perjury probe
Tommy Sheridan and his lawyer Aamer Anwar outside Gayfield Police Station
Mr Sheridan was first held in the car park of a radio station

Former Socialist MSP Tommy Sheridan has been charged with perjury after a police inquiry into his defamation case against the News of the World.

Speaking outside a police station where he was held, Mr Sheridan, 43, vowed to prove his innocence, claiming he was the victim of a "witch-hunt".

Mr Sheridan had been held in Edinburgh during searches of his Glasgow house.

His lawyer, Aamer Anwar, said Mr Sheridan condemned the "excessive actions" of police.

Nine officers attended his family at their home and a team then visited him at his workplace, Mr Sheridan told reporters.

'Battle goes on'

Mr Sheridan gave a brief statement himself saying that despite his condemnation of the heavy handed use of scant police resources he did not wish to retract his support of trade union rights for police.

"I believe I am the victim of a political witch-hunt," he said.

"I believe this whole farcical enquiry which has usurped an incredible amount of public resources, was orchestrated and influenced by the powerful reach of the Murdoch empire."

While thanking those who had given him and his family support, he vowed: "This battle goes on, however long it takes to prove my name."

His lawyer Mr Anwar said: "Mr Sheridan maintains his innocence and condemns the excessive action of Lothian and Borders Police today."

Mr Sheridan was driven to Edinburgh's Gayfield police station on Sunday, after he was detained by police officers outside a radio station where he had been presenting his Citizen Tommy talk show.

After leaving the police station Mr Sheridan said he was looking forward to hugging his wife and two-year-old child, who he claimed had gone through a "frightening experience" when police came to the family home and were "camped at the house".

Conflicting evidence

He was questioned for eight hours before being charged.

Officers also undertook a search of his home, in Glasgow's Cardonald area.

Solicitor Martha Rafferty, speaking on behalf of trial witnesses Anne Colvin and Helen Allison, said: "My clients welcome the fact that Mr Sheridan has been charged with perjury.

"They maintain that they told the truth under oath at the Court of Session in July 2006."

A spokesperson for the News of the World - which is owned by Rupert Murdoch - said they did not wish to comment.

The former Scottish Socialist Party leader won his case against the newspaper in August 2006 after a four-week hearing at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

Semi-detached house
Police conducted a search at Mr Sheridan's home

The Sunday tabloid was ordered to pay Mr Sheridan 200,000 damages after it made a series of lurid allegations about his private life.

During the defamation case witnesses gave conflicting evidence about the circumstances of the allegations.

After the proceedings, prosecutors ordered police to carry out a criminal investigation into allegations of perjury in October 2006.

Mr Sheridan led the Scottish Socialist Party in the Scottish Parliament before the party split.

The father-of-one formed the rival Solidarity party, but neither he nor his former colleagues were returned to Holyrood in the May 2007 elections.

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