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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 August 2006, 22:16 GMT 23:16 UK
Sheridan nominated for leadership
Tommy Sheridan
Tommy Sheridan stepped down as party leader two years ago
Tommy Sheridan has taken a step towards reclaiming the leadership of the Scottish Socialist Party after party members nominated him for the post.

The SSP's Orkney branch unanimously backed a call for him to challenge current convener Colin Fox at the party's October conference.

It also called for a "one member, one vote" system to help unite the party.

The SSP's leadership has condemned Mr Sheridan as a "timebomb" who could sound the death knell for the party.

Novelist John Aberdein, who played a key role in putting together Mr Sheridan's case after he sacked his legal team, had asked his local SSP branch in Orkney to nominate Sheridan as party leader.

I am proud of my record in leading the party
Colin Fox

Mr Fox said he welcomed the leadership contest.

"It means party members will have a clear choice and that is vital at this time," he said.

"I am proud of my record in leading the party. No-one has done more to ensure that the SSP survived the terribly trying times of the past 16 months."

The war of words which has developed among Socialists in the wake of Mr Sheridan's defamation victory against the News of the World has worsened despite Mr Fox appealing for unity.

Mr Sheridan, who won 200,000 in his action against the tabloid over allegations it printed over his sex life, has described those who stood against him in court as "scabs".

They included fellow MSPs Rosie Kane, Carolyn Leckie and Mr Fox.

I'll never forgive, no chance
Tommy Sheridan

The Socialist executive has defended members who appeared against Mr Sheridan and has urged him to apologise.

However, the MSP told BBC Scotland he would be reluctant to speak to those who spoke against him, comparing them with miners who "scabbed during the great strike of 1984/85".

"I'll never forgive, no chance," he said.

"How can you forgive people who have politically scabbed on you on behalf of the most anti-trade union, obnoxious, anti-socialist organisation on the planet?"

In response, the SSP has published a dossier, which has been sent to all party members, stating that Mr Sheridan is now leading a "burnt-out sect within the SSP, driven only by his own ego".

Perjury investigation

It is nearly two years since Mr Sheridan stepped down as leader of the party he co-founded, amid lurid allegations in the Sunday tabloid.

The Glasgow MSP brought the civil action against the News of the World after it printed claims that he had cheated on his wife, visited a sex club and participated in orgies.

A jury of six men and five women found in the MSP's favour by a majority verdict last Friday.

Lothian and Borders Police have also confirmed they were considering whether to mount a perjury investigation.

SSP minutes secretary Barbara Scott has confirmed she submitted her notes of a meeting at which it was claimed Mr Sheridan admitted visiting a sex club to the police.

The minutes were disputed during the case, with Mr Sheridan maintaining it was not a true and accurate record of the meeting and that, in fact, he denied the sex club allegation.

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