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From The Socialist newspaper, 11 February 2009

Vendetta continues against socialist fighter

Tommy Sheridan speaking at Socialism 2006

Tommy Sheridan speaking at Socialism 2006

Tommy Sheridan and Gail Sheridan are to face a trial on charges of perjury. The Scottish Crown Office is to press ahead with a court case after one of the most expensive and lengthy police investigations in Scottish legal history.

Philip Stott

The BBC confirmed that the police investigation has cost at least 1.5 million and has used up 47,000 hours of police officers' time. This makes it the most expensive perjury investigation ever in Scotland.

The decision to pursue a perjury inquiry in the first place, following Tommy Sheridan's victory over the News of the World in 2006, was unique in Scottish law.

Never before in Scottish legal history has a civil defamation case been followed by a criminal investigation into possible perjury having being committed. BBC Scotland solicitor Alistair Bonnington commented on Newsnight Scotland on 17 December 2007: "Lies are told every day and in every case in courts across Scotland. What happens about that? Absolutely nothing. Just because this case involved a politician and a newspaper is not a reasonable basis at all to proceed with a perjury investigation. For Scotland this sets a precedent".

Prominent Scottish journalist Iain McWhirter, writing in The Guardian, made the point: "Perjury investigations are very rare even in criminal cases in Scotland, and it is unheard of for such an investigation to follow a defamation action".

Political interests

It is clear that the decision to press ahead with a perjury trial has been driven by the political interests of the legal establishment and the political elite who hope to destroy a figure who has been a thorn in their flesh over the last two decades.

Tommy Sheridan was a leader of the anti-poll tax movement that was central to organising the mass non-payment campaign that defeated the Tory government in the early 1990s and in the process ended the career of Margaret Thatcher.

He served a four-month jail sentence during that campaign as a result of his leadership of it, and he was elected from his prison cell to Glasgow city council in 1992.

Worker's wage

Tommy was elected as a socialist living on the average wage of a worker to the Scottish parliament in 1999. It was this that made him the target of the Murdoch media empire whose stable of papers include the Sun and News of the World, papers with a long record of attacking workers, trade unionists, asylum seekers and socialists. The vendetta against Tommy Sheridan is part of a campaign to destroy any opposition to the billionaires and the capitalist system.

Solidarity - Scotland's Socialist Movement has pledged its full support for Tommy and Gail Sheridan: "Solidarity gives our full support to our co-convenor Tommy Sheridan and his partner Gail. We will continue to fight alongside Tommy against injustice, and in defence of whoever is victimised by the rich and powerful.

"Solidarity reaffirms our commitment to campaign for justice for the Palestinian people; to fight school closures in Glasgow; cuts and redundancies across the country, as the economic crisis deepens; and to engage in 'left unity' initiatives aimed at strengthening the voice of the socialist left as we approach the forthcoming elections."

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