Page last updated at 14:15 GMT, Monday, 13 July 2009 15:15 UK

Sheridan denies perjury charges


The Sheridans' solicitor Aamer Anwar made a statement outside the court

Former Solidarity MSP Tommy Sheridan and his wife Gail have pleaded not guilty to charges of perjury.

The couple lodged the pleas during a preliminary hearing at the High Court in Edinburgh.

The charges relate to evidence during Mr Sheridan's defamation victory over the News of the World in 2006 following publication of sex and drugs claims.

The couple, who are both aged 45, were charged with perjury in December 2007 following an investigation by police.

The case will be heard in January next year at the High Court in Glasgow, and could be the longest perjury trial in Scottish legal history, with a prosecution witness list currently extending to more than 180 names.

Paul McBride QC
Paul McBride QC, for Mrs Sheridan, said the trial could last three months

Monday's hearing was the couple's first appearance in open court since they were charged with committing perjury during the civil action, heard in July and August 2006.

The former MSP - who has since lost his seat in Holyrood - took the News of the World publishers to the Court of Session over stories that claimed he cheated on his wife, took part in orgies and visited Cupids, a swingers' club in Manchester.

During 23 days of evidence, News Group Newspapers stoutly defended their allegations - but a jury awarded Mr Sheridan £200,000 after Mrs Sheridan gave powerful evidence to back her husband.

The publishers immediately appealed against the decision but their attempt to overturn the civil jury's verdict was put on hold when a police investigation began.

Mr Sheridan also faces another charge of trying to persuade Colin Fox - also a Scottish Socialist Party MSP at the time - to lie for him in the witness box.

'Surveillance device'

He is accused of confessing to other members of the Scottish Socialist Party's executive committee at a crisis meeting in November 2004 that he had visited Cupids - then denying in court that he had made such a confession.

He is also accused of lying on oath about having sex with a girl at a party in a Glasgow hotel, about his affair with News of the World columnist Anvar Khan, and about taking Danish SSP member Katrine Trolle to his home in Cardonald, Glasgow, for sex.

Mrs Sheridan is accused of lying about a conversation with Ms Trolle and about claims that she was with her husband during the whole of the evening in June 2002 when, it is alleged, he was at the hotel sex party.

Defence advocate Tony Lenehan, for Mr Sheridan, referred to fresh allegations last week about the News of the World being involved in phone tapping and said that in 2007 Tommy Sheridan reported a "surveillance device" found in his car.

Mr Sheridan appeared on Celebrity Big Brother in January.

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