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Last Updated: Friday, 4 August 2006, 09:19 GMT 10:19 UK
Jurors consider Sheridan sex case
Gail and Tommy Sheridan
Mr Sheridan is seeking 200,000 in damages from the paper
Jurors in the Tommy Sheridan News of the World sex claims defamation case have retired to consider their verdict.

The jury of six men and five women have heard claims of group sex, swingers clubs and drug taking.

Mr Sheridan said: "Regardless of today's verdict, I am one of the most fortunate men in the world."

Arriving at the Court of Session in Edinburgh, he said: "I have such a beautiful and loyal wife and such a beautiful and loyal family."

Closing speeches in the five-week, 200,000 case at the Court of Session have taken place this week.

The former Scottish Socialist Party leader denies the claims which the paper said were "substantially" true.

Mr Sheridan is suing the News of the World over allegations that he visited a sex club, committed adultery and participated in orgies.

'Life and reputation'

During the case, MSPs, journalists and former prostitutes have been among the witnesses called to give evidence.

Mr Sheridan sacked his legal team early in the action and has been conducting his own case ever since.

The judge, Lord Turnbull, finished directing the jury on Friday morning.

In summing up, Mr Sheridan had challenged the jury to consider why he would risk his "life and reputation" by behaving in the way the Sunday tabloid alleged.

It is essential that when you analyse the evidence and consider your verdict, that you put out of your mind any view you may have held about Mr Sheridan
Lord Turnbull

He attacked the paper and suggested the accusations had come from a combination of financial inducement and political infighting.

The QC for the News of the World, Michael Jones, defended the integrity of the witnesses and questioned whether 18 people unconnected to the paper could have stood in the witness box and lied under oath.

Mr Jones said history was littered with "political corpses" brought down by their own recklessness.

In beginning his direction to the jury on Thursday, Lord Turnbull stressed their decision must not be influenced by emotion, bias, their personal views or the extensive media coverage the case has attracted.

Cupids
Some of the claims centred around the Cupids club in Manchester

He told the jurors: "It is essential that when you analyse the evidence and consider your verdict, that you put out of your mind any view you may have held about Mr Sheridan."

The judge also acknowledged the News Of The World was a newspaper about which some people hold strong views.

He said: "I am not aware of ever having bought or read a single copy of the News Of The World but I am not in any position whatsoever to judge its journalistic standards."

From the articles that have been put before the court during the case, Lord Turnbull said the newspaper appeared to specialise in "human interest features".

Again, he stressed it was vital for the jury to put their own views about the Sunday newspaper to one side and focus on the evidence.

Key questions

Lord Turnbull also told the jury that in a civil case the burden of proof was the balance of probabilities.

This is different from criminal cases where allegations have to be proved beyond reasonable doubt, he said.

The judge also said corroboration, which applies in criminal cases, does not apply in civil cases.

The jury were reminded that the four issues they had to consider were whether Mr Sheridan committed adultery, whether he was a swinger, whether he took part in orgies and whether the teetotal politician drank champagne.

Lord Turnbull said: "They are defamatory because they mean he was a hypocrite and an abuser of his position of power as a party leader."

The jury then retired to consider its verdict.


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