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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 August 2006, 17:43 GMT 18:43 UK
Sheridan in strip offer to jury
Tommy Sheridan and Mike Jones QC
Mr Sheridan and Mr Jones have been giving closing speeches
Socialist MSP Tommy Sheridan has offered to strip off for the jury to disprove News of the World claims in his 200,000 case against the paper.

Mr Sheridan provoked laughter when he suggested to show he was hairy - not mentioned in allegations - during his closing speech at the Court of Session.

The MSP, who has been conducting his own case, launched a final broadside against the paper's sex claims.

However, in his speech the paper's QC Michael Jones defended the allegations.

The Sunday tabloid said what it published was "substantially" true.

Orgy claims

Mr Sheridan, 42, who is representing himself after sacking his lawyers earlier in the proceedings, made a passionate speech to the jury of six men and five women in Edinburgh.

He told them he had put his life and reputation on the line in seeking to challenge allegations of infidelity, including group sex and swingers' clubs and dubbed the paper "liars and hypocrites".

The allegations in the course of this case have been as numerous as grains of sand in the Sahara Desert but evidence, but real tangible, substantial evidence, has been conspicuous by its absence
Tommy Sheridan MSP

Referring to his wife Gail's evidence earlier this week, in which she said he had thick body hair - like a monkey's - Mr Sheridan told jurors: "If I am a hairy ape I am sure, if challenged, I am sure my lord will allow me to disrobe. I would be prepared to do that."

He said that Fiona McGuire, Katrine Trolle, Anvar Khan and the women who claim to have been with him at the Moat House Hotel in Glasgow during a three-in-a-bed romp had not mentioned his body hair - even though it was a striking and obvious characteristic.

Mr Sheridan also appeared close to tears when he spoke of his 42-year-old wife, saying she had already delivered the most important verdict in the case by continuing to stand by him.

His voice trembled with fury when he said the News of the World story at the centre of the allegation had appeared when Mrs Sheridan was in a critical state of her pregnancy.

Gail Sheridan
Mr Sheridan pointed to the evidence from wife Gail

Mr Sheridan said that as a politician he realised he was open to attack.

He said: "I accept that but they endangered my wife, they endangered my child and - you know what - they endangered Fiona McGuire as well. They couldn't care less because the bottom line is selling newspapers."

He told the jury that Ms McGuire's overdose just days after receiving 20,000 for her story showed she was "riven with guilt".

Mr Sheridan said he would never forgive former escort girl Ms McGuire, but did not despise her and added that she was a victim of the News of the World too.

He said the three weeks of evidence had produced plenty of smoke and mirrors but no "smoking gun".

History is littered with the political corpses of great men who have been brought down by their own recklessness
Michael Jones QC
News of the World counsel

He told the jury: "From four-in-a-bed to five-in-a-bed. From five-in-a-bed to sex clubs. From sex clubs to champagne. From champagne to cocaine. From cocaine to orgies in a hotel slap bang in the middle of Glasgow.

"The allegations in the course of this case have been as numerous as grains of sand in the Sahara Desert but evidence, but real tangible, substantial evidence, has been conspicuous by its absence."

In his closing speech, Mr Jones said he would prove that Mr Sheridan was a hypocrite and that he was being driven by his ego.

He pointed to evidence from some of Mr Sheridan's party colleagues, who said he had confessed to visiting a swingers' club on two occasions when he addressed an emergency executive committee meeting on 9 November, 2004.

Mr Jones also suggested that Mr Sheridan had made a mistake in sacking his legal team earlier in the case and such reckless behaviour was a mark of the man.

He said: "History is littered with the political corpses of great men who have been brought down by their own recklessness."

Mr Jones is due to conclude his speech on Thursday.


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